Dotte Com / Courtesy photo

Dotte Com Discusses Mental Health as a Black Performer

If you don’t know her yet, Dotte Com is a local queen who has performed all over the city since 2017. For years she has dazzled crowds with her performances, which showcase a fusion of her drag and cosplay influences. She is also the organizer behind NeonBlk, a monthly all-Black drag show at Mary’s.

Initially, Dotte found her start in cosplay scenes where, due to the fear of backlash, she would perform only as characters with a similar complexion to hers. Her worry was not an unfounded one. While the cosplay scene has worked to become more inclusive over time, there still exists a vocal minority of people who maintain hostility toward POC performers ‘dressing outside of their race’. Dotte thought it best to restrict her pool of potential cosplays to characters with the same complexion.

“A lot of cosplayers, when I first started, really decreed accuracy, so you want to look like the character, and I included the skin tone,” Dotte told Georgia Voice. “So, I kind of boxed myself in with a list of characters I wanted to do. Like, okay, this character’s Black, so I’ll do this character, and this character’s Black, and this character’s Black, but it felt so limiting.”

After some soul-searching, she decided to risk ridicule to gain the freedom of donning the cosplays she had always kept in her heart. As she began to attend conventions with her new looks, she found nothing but support from the community. Each appearance she made from then on helped to further cement confidence in her.

“I feel like we get very used to thinking that we’re not good enough, [so] we don’t really recognize when we are good enough,” she said. “When people compliment us, I feel it’s like: ‘No, that’s somebody who took time out of their day and took their breath to say how awesome they think you are. That’s not up for debate.’”

Around the same time, Dotte would find herself freed from another similar restriction. After seeing Dax ExclamationPoint compete on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” she realized that she could have the freedom to explore an even wider set of characters. Until this point, to perform femme characters she would instead do a sort of ‘boy-drag’ where she would play them as men. Using a femme presentation to bring out nuances of their original depictions was far more exciting and authentic to her. With this, the last pieces of Dotte Com were formed at the intersection of drag and cosplay.

These changes have allowed her to explore a wider and unrestricted range, while also working as the first steps forward in an ongoing effort to find true self-acceptance. Despite her consistent shows and successes with managing NeonBlk, she would frequently confront questions of her worthiness. Growing up with Trinidadian parents in a culturally white neighborhood had left her in a recurring struggle with her racial identity. As she began NeonBlk, she would battle with the idea that she may not be “Black enough” to run an all-Black show.

“In the first few years of doing NeonBlk, I didn’t feel like I was American enough, or culturally Black enough, to even be doing it,” she explained. “I think there are so many things that happened [that] helped me get more used to that. I feel like it doesn’t matter if I feel Black enough because, at the end of the day, I’m perceived as Black – you can tell. So, even if I don’t get all the references, I’m still going through America the same way that the next Black person is. So that was like realizing that I’m in this with everybody else, you know, we’re all going through the same type of struggles, at least.”

With time, Dotte would reduce the grip of imposter syndrome – although she admitted that it was still a work in progress, she had found that similarly to gaining the confidence to perform unrestricted, her self-assuredness was also built through community support. By being continually accepted with open arms, she came into a new mindset: nobody is the picture-perfect representation of any group.

“It’s just so eye-opening that there’s not any one way to be Black,” she told Georgia Voice. “Just like there isn’t one way to be queer and there’s not one way to be gay. Know whatever way you have it, is valid. At the end of the day, I’m also more than just Black, it’s only one part of my identity… it’s a weird combination that we all struggle with.” 

For more information on Dotte Com or NeonBlk, follow @thedottecom and @neonblkdrag on Instagram.