Former drag queen shares journey from promiscuity to pastorship

Benjamin Blake Howard
Benjamin Blake Howard | YouTube/Allie Beth Stuckey

A former drag queen performer who once identified as gay recently spoke of leaving a life of promiscuity and depravity after he had a life-changing encounter with Jesus. 

Benjamin Blake Howard, now an associate pastor in San Antonio, Texas, was recently interviewed by Allie Beth Stuckey on her "Relatable" podcast.

Howard said he remembers developing same-sex attractions at around age 6, during a time when he was sexually abused by a friend and his older brother. However, he kept the abuse to himself, all while being raised in a family that regularly attended a local megachurch. 

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“[The abuse] really solidified everything. It really was the seed that planted it all," Howard shared. "It really was what made sense of everything I was already feeling."

“I was kind of thinking I liked it, but I felt bad. I didn’t like having this feeling. I knew and I felt in me it was not right. ... But at the same time, it gave me physical language to what I was feeling. And in a sense, I wanted to explore this, but I didn’t want to talk about it."

A hidden sexual attraction  

For a long time, Howard said he kept his sexuality a secret. However, he was often teased and called "gay" in school because his voice was higher than the other boys. 

As he grew up, Howard “would connect more with the female characters in the cartoons" and "wanted to grow up and be like them," calling it a "kind of female mindset." 

One evening, at family dinner, Howard said his mother mentioned how one of the contestants on "American Idol" had opened up about being gay in the news. Then, Howard’s father said something that stayed with him.  

“My dad was like, ‘we don’t talk about f—,’" Howard recalled. "Growing up in the South, a lot of those derogatory terms are kind of normalized. And immediately ... I just knew we don’t talk about it. I was probably like 8 or 9." 

Howard said he didn’t act on his same-sex feelings until late in high school when he participated in local theater productions. 

Being cast in a female role for one production and having to dress as a woman to play the character, began Howard's journey of cross-dressing.

“Homosexuality was a lot more open in the theater community," Howard said. "I would show up to the rehearsals and production and people just gave me so much praise." 

"It was like instant gratification. All of this amazing feeling. Because again, I grew up bullied. I grew up feeling like I wasn’t enough.” 

'That feeling'

Howard said "that feeling" he got when he received praise every time he showed up to rehearsals dressed as a woman was indescribable, saying he "held onto that feeling."

After graduation, Howard said he became "heavy into drugs and alcohol" and had an on-and-off boyfriend, who eventually broke up when Howard refused to be more open about his sexuality.

“I was brokenhearted. … And I was trying to fill a void in my heart that I had for such a long time,” he said, adding that he “craved” attention from men and began "looking for it in all the wrong places.” 

“I started being super promiscuous and going on hook-up apps and trying to find somebody."

Despite the promiscuity, Howard still didn’t feel fulfilled. He began to grow interested in becoming a drag performer, watching "makeup tutorials," "drag races," dyeing his hair and creating a drag character named "Velma." 

“And then I was like, ‘man, that felt good again.’ That was that feeling. It brought all the feelings back from when I was a high schooler [when] I played that drag character," he said.

The drag life  

Howard said he decided as a teenager that being a drag performer was his new journey in life. He also started selling drugs on the side to pay for his wardrobe. 

He would show up to bars dressed fully in drag, often sneaking out of his home to dress in drag and perform at night in bars, returning home before his parents would wake up.  

“I showed up in drag so no one really questioned me. No one really knew my age or expected to card me,” Howard recalled. 

Eventually, Howard began to question why he wasn’t feeling the same fulfillment he first felt when he started out as a drag queen. 

Also, at one point, Howard said he nearly overdosed on cocaine.   

As a result of these things, he took a break from drag performing. 

A new kind of joy

Howard said his mother proposed the idea of him exploring what attending a ministry school in Hamilton, Alabama, would be like. Despite his reluctance, Howard attended the school.

Howard recalled one worship service on the campus where the worship leader said something that changed his perspective on life.  

“The worship leader stopped and she was like ... 'I feel like the Lord wants me to say this, that there are people in this room that the fact that you have said ‘yes’ to going to this school and being here today, … your ‘yes’ is literally setting you up for a destiny that you never could have imagined,’” Howard recalled. 

As the worship continued, Howard recounted feeling something he had never felt before: "I actually started feeling happy.” 

“I had struggled with suicidal thoughts," Howard recounted. "I had struggled with anxiety. I had struggled with all of this darkness. I had struggled with loneliness and not feeling like I was enough. Like I had been through so much at this point, that when I felt this happiness ... just come over me, I was like, ‘what is this?’” 

Howard said he encountered the presence of God and felt he could let everything go and be free. Although Howard still battled with same-sex attraction, he wanted to be a practicing Christian. 

After attending a Christian conference that covered the topic of homosexuality, Howard promised God that he would let go of homosexuality for good.

“I started being open with my struggle with homosexuality,” he said.

Howard opened up to a campus leader about his same-sex attraction, and the leader mentored him, brought him closer to Christ and helped him reject his sexual urges. 

Later, Howard met who he said is the woman of his dreams, who he fell in love with. Shortly after, they got married. 

“I think that it’s really important for anyone struggling with homosexuality ... for you to get a man or woman of God that is willing to look past who you’ve been and what you’ve done and look past your struggles and say, ‘let's get through this together,’” Howard said. 

Howard is the author of the 2020 book From Mascara to Manhood, which details his journey from the drag queen lifestyle to becoming a pastor.

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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