A conversation with D’LO

By Hayley Karunadhara

“You have a voice, and you have to use it, and you have to walk with integrity, and not be afraid to be vulnerable.”

Encore, encore! D’Lo left the audience wanting more with his witty, enriching and heartfelt performance. His comic antic-combined with the stories about his journey as a queer/trans man, deepened our understanding of the struggle of finding and owning your identity whilst also finding laughter in your own stories.

The opening act was D’Lo’s right-hand man Rudy, another trans-man who opened with the story of his transition and the struggle of coming out to his parents while coming to terms with his own identity. His stories let the audience see the raw side of coming out; his act made way for D’Lo’s comedy, as it left the audience pensive and attentive. It is difficult when, while you are struggling to become who you are, that others, especially those you love the most, try to discourage you , putting it down as a ‘phase’, or a ‘trend’, or a ‘ploy for attention’. Both D’Lo and Rudy had to face this and both came out on different sides of this response, but they both found happiness in claiming who they are and finding people who accepted and loved them for it.

This performance reminds us that who we are doesn’t have to be defined by other people, and to know and live our identity is to feel true happiness. When D’Lo talks about his mastectomy he defines it as, “the most selfish and self-loving decision I had ever made in my life.”

D’Lo’s stories about his parents, their ideas of culture combined with his own, and growing up in America left the crowd in stitches. We all felt connected to D’Lo and in some ways we could all relate to his hilarious stories; in other ways he brought out fresh questions and ideas. Speaking from the perspective of a queer/transperson but also as a member of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, living in America, he spoke of growing up learning and discovering multiple cultures. He spoke of his Tamil community, the experience of this identity often highlighted by his ‘super aunty’, and of his parents trying to bring Sri Lankan culture to them while they grew up in the United States. You couldn’t help but crack a smile at his interactive and energetic performance; his impressions and jokes made us all feel as though we were there in his stories.

The process of change is a difficult one, but D’Lo’s performance and confidence in who he is today shows us that being true to yourself is really the most ideal way to live, and the path to reach it is full of conflict with others and within oneself, but despite the hurdles, the grass truly is greener when you are happy with who you are.