Hi! My name is Li’l Man Old Navy a.k.a. Li’l Man Khan. I’ve been in the Kiki scene for three years now. I started off walking performance the first year coming into the Kiki scene. Old Navy recruited me, but performance wasn’t my only interest. I wanted more.
At some point in my life, I went through a lot. Things were not working out and I became homeless. But I had dreams to become a better person. I never wanted to slip into doing any type of risky behaviors that involved stuff like sex or drugs. So, I ended up staying at my gay father’s house, so I could better myself and get my mind on the right track. This was the best outlet to keep me focused on the bigger picture.
Before I started walking runway, I remember bringing it up to my father and he was like, “No.” I explained to him that I could do it because not only did I graduate in vocal performance; I also had a head full of creative ideas that didn’t need to go to waste.
|Li’l Man Old Navy|
He eventually let me walk the Runaway. For me, it was a way to let all my frustrations out. It was therapeutic. I let out all my demons through the Runway. I got myself together to walk the Pink Lady Ball and I had a lot of support doing it. That night, I walked out of there with my first grand prize.
We all know that Runway isn’t a cheap category, and I knew that for me being homeless, it would reflect through my Runway, my character, and my effects.
In order to build a better effect you need money. I didn’t have the money to do that.
A lot of people, including my father, wanted me to worry about finding work rather than walking balls. But I couldn’t just focus on that alone. The memory of being kicked out by the man I moved up here for still lingered on. So, any outlet with positive energy did me good. By walking Runway, I was able to channel all that frustration into building a better me. It gave me strength.
So, I filled out several job applications and I was lucky to get a job. When I got my own place a couple of months later, I knew then that my visions would come to life! I won’t lie. All this was not easy. At one point it got so hard that I almost gave up and moved back home. But my father kept on telling me, “New York is where I should be,” and he was right. So I listened, sucked it up, and made what I thought was impossible happen.
I’ve always heard stories of how people fall, lose all hope, and end up putting themselves in risky situations like unsafe sexual behaviors and abusing drugs. I had people who believed in me and kept me focused. I didn’t steer down the wrong path. I know it’s not easy out there. I made it and so can you. It is possible!
From the October/November issue of SeroZero by GMHC. To read the issue as a PDF, click here.