Coco we go way back but would you mind introducing yourself to our readers?
Hello the fabulous readers, my name is Coco Pop, you can find me in various venues in Manchester’s gay scene and in Liverpool’s Heaven on a Monday night, I was the fattest drag queen in the village but as of me finishing these questions I’ve dropped 2stone in weight so I think we can hand that title back to Belinda Scandal. If you’re reading this Belinda you know I love ya!
We used to work together back in 2011 and you started out in Manchester’s gay village as a G-A-Y bus boy. Seeing how far you’ve come professionally as a drag artist in the last 6 years what do you have to say for yourself?
Thanks Junior, hard work and dedication, it all started off as just a bit of harmless fun (specifically at your Lady Gaga night in G-A-Y) and then it became more of a job. When it’s no longer fun anymore that’s when I’ll give it up.
Somebody I noticed who had your back from the beginning was Misty Chance. Are you missing her right now?
Absolutely, Misty and myself never really got on that well from the start but she was definitely one of the first people to give me a chance and now I genuinely do consider her a friend and making true friends is a very hard thing to do in this village but Misty is definitely a friend and I can’t wait for her to be back.
I see that VIA is now your resident venue and I think you’re well suited there! I also interviewed Sophie who works at VIA and it’s so great to have multiple individuals from the same venue approach this campaign because they have a genuine will to make a difference. How are you finding your time at VIA right now?
I do love my home at VIA, we have a great team over there! I’m also a resident at The Thompsons Arms and I don’t do much drag at VIA because I want to focus on being a DJ so Saturdays you will find Dan but on Thursdays you will find Coco.
Usually I approach individuals to take part in this campaign so I was thrilled when it was you who actually approached me! HIV stigma is a real issue especially within our community so it’s refreshing to see that you recognise that and want to make a difference. It seems, in my personal opinion that it is LGBT+ youth that probably need this education the most, would you agree?
Absolutely Junior, it always seems to be the younger generation that I hear, I don’t necessarily think they’re being ignorant, I actually think they’re just uneducated and I love that with charities such as George House Trust that the older generation will help to educate the younger generation.
There seems to be a lot of ‘slut shaming’ when visiting a sexual health clinic for a regular check-up, how can we make this more normalised without fear of judgement?
All I say to that is don’t worry about what your peers may think about you going to the gum clinic, I find it very responsible, I don’t really know how we can make it normalised but I honestly would be very proud to see my friends attending the sexual health clinic and knowing that they’re safe.
Last year we found out that there has been a huge dramatic decrease in new HIV infections, 40% to be precise! Many think this is due to the amount of people taking daily PrEP, a pill which can protect you from contracting HIV if adhered to properly. What do you make of PrEP?
I think PrEP is great but (sorry don’t hate me for this) whilst PrEP is a great drug to help avoid HIV transmission, I also think that people still need to be vigilant and safe in the bedroom, always use a condom and overall just make sure you are completely comfortable and safe.
You currently have a platform to inspire others, particularly LGBT+ youth who look up to drag queens in this generation. How does it feel to have this sort of responsibility?
It feels great knowing that I am able to offer support, I may not know everything but I will always try my best to give advice and inspire people who come to my shows.
Do you have any encouraging words for those who are newly diagnosed?
It’s not the end, there is plenty of support in our fabulous community, a lot of great charities out there to help with advice and i of course will always be a shoulder for anybody.
Finally, do you have anything else you would like to say before we wrap this up?
I just like to say a huge thank you for being so so patient on waiting for these questions as I’ve been so busy lately so thank you!
You can find Coco at Manchester’s VIA and The Thompson’s Arms throughout the week and also Heaven based in Liverpool.
Want to take part in our #STIGMAWARRIOR campaign? Have your say on HIV stigma and get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are also working in collaboration with ‘But I Like It’ a local photography company who are a major contributor to our campaign. For those in the Greater Manchester/West Yorks area, you will be eligible for a free photoshoot with our good friend Johann who will be happy to give you a free photoshoot for those wishing to take part in our campaign.
If you’d like to check out ‘But I Like It’ tweet them here or visit Johann’s website here