Grayson Nordgren also known as the fierce local drag queen, Jenna Telz, recently had his hard work and dedication to the craft pay off — as he was spotlighted on CBC’s web series, Canada’s A Drag.
The 23-year-old received the call back in early November for the chance to be recognized on the show and quickly jumped at the opportunity to share his story.
Following a day in the life of Jenna Telz, Nordgren had the cameras rolling on him for 16 hours straight leading up to one of his double-feature shows hosted at local watering hole, Muninn’s Post.
“It was my first time ever working with a film crew for that long, but everyone was really awesome and supportive,” said Nordgren.
Unsure of what would make the cut, Nordgren participated in multiple interviews where he shared the heartbreaking story of how he got to where he is today.
“I feel like whenever I'm going to have a conversation about how I came into drag, I can’t not include my past as part of it. It is a big reason of why I do what I do,” he explained.
“The struggles I faced are what motivate me. If I can even help one kid going through what I went through and have them come out of it just a little easier, it is all worthwhile,” added Nordgren.
Growing up as a Jehovah's Witness, Nordgren was expelled from the church after his family learned of his sexual orientation.
“It still happens nowadays, even in Canada. People are still losing their families because of who they are and things they have no choice over,” he said.
“I feel like it is extremely important that it doesn’t get forgotten in the push for acceptance. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, especially for youth.”
During his time in the spotlight, Nordgren said he wanted to let viewers know that “they can have a fulfilling life even if their family doesn’t accept them,” and let people get to know him.
Norgren premiered the episode on Wednesday evening surrounded by his fellow queens, and the new family he has created for himself, during a viewing party hosted at Muninn’s.
“It was nice to have an intimate crowd. I don’t usually get the chance to stick around and have meaningful conversations with everyone, so it was nice to chat with people, answer any questions they may have, and let them get to know me a little better,” he said.
Throughout the night, Nordgren performed an impressive six lip-sync numbers, all coming to a conclusion with his final emotional performance following the episode.
“For me at the end of the night, I usually get a bit emotional because I remember what it felt like walking out of that Kingdom Hall for the last time, knowing that I was leaving the fellowship and losing everything," Nordgren said.
“Even though now I do feel fulfilled, I want other people who are going through similar situations to know that it doesn’t matter where you are at in life, that you can make something of yourself."
Now that the cameras are done rolling, Nordgren plans to continue his day to day work of promoting his fellow queens, Kelowna’s drag community and sharing his story with local youth.
“There is definitely a need for me to tell my story a little further. I don’t think I’m done sharing it and I don’t think I ever will be because of the importance of it,” he said.
You can catch Jenna's next performance on Friday, Feb. 22 at Sapphire!