Hair and Makeup: In the Beginning

He will probably die soon. My Dad, that is.

As I write, he is in a hospital with his life supported by machines, and has been for several weeks. His body is in shock from renal failure and there is nothing I can do to stop what is happening inside his war-torn skin. I pray from here. I have combed over my favorite memories of him. I pray some more. I practice the only thing that keeps me from sinking into the sadness of it all – thanksgiving and gratitude.

That is where I start thinking of my Dad … and makeup.

Dad w Hats

My story about my dad is probably not like many father-daughter stories. Let me rewind:

My mother and grandmother have repeatedly told me stories about how I have always been a makeup lover since I was a child. When my older sister, younger brother, and I were given money at the store to buy whatever treats we had earned, each of us made consistent choices. My sister would choose books; to this day she is a brilliant mother, teacher, and writer (not to mention business woman). My brother would always choose superhero figurines and martial arts toys. As you might have guessed, he is strong, and scary dangerous (he would smile at that). I, however, would always choose lip gloss, chap stick, nail polish or the toy makeup sets. Always. And, you guessed it, to this day, I have a passion for showing women of all ages how to enhance their God-granted beauty with beauty products of all sorts.

Fast forward to my early teen years. When I was 12, I moved to North Carolina to live with my grandmother. My father lived close to her home and every once in a while would take me out gallivanting with him. My Dad, for as long as I could remember, was openly gay and HIV positive. He was a gay-rights and HIV advocate. Unlike most 15-year old girls, you could find me with my Dad, at a local gay bar handing out condoms and safe sex literature. I had a vast array of drag queen “Aunts” and “Uncles” (the deceased “Carmen Del Rio” was a frequent visitor at my Dad’s house and was a cherished family friend). At any given time you could find someone playing with my hair or giving me “contour talk.” I was hooked. I loved the hair, makeup, and sequins. I guess my Dad knew, I guess that is why he took me.

It wasn’t easy to be “the gay guy’s kid.” I was teased, tormented, and rejected. But, I loved (and love) my Dad and I loved that I was so loved by the whole group of his friends. To me, my drag queen “Aunties” were not gay or straight or any other category past someone else who loved makeup and hair. My Dad was also not “gay” or “HIV positive,” he was my daddy.


As he struggles with his battle for his life, and I pour over things I am most grateful for, makeup (and my passion/purpose to minister to other women) is high on the list. But right up there with it is:

  • The ability to love people for who they are, where they are
  • Refusal to judge a book by the cover
  • Championship over adversity
  • A heart for the hurting

So, thank you Dad for the very different brand of love you gave me. Not every memory was rosey, in fact, most of it was downright hard – but I am so thankful and grateful for the lessons, the gifts, and the journey with you on this earth.

Love, light, and lipstick,

That Basic Chic