Arts·Canada's a Drag

Manghoe Lassi is a Desi drag queen on a mission to break the toxic chains of masculinity

Raised in a traditional Muslim household, they want to become the queer brown icon they never had growing up. Watch Canada's a Drag Season 2 now.

Raised in a traditional Muslim household, they want to become the queer brown icon they never had growing up

Manghoe Lassi performs in Toronto. (CBC Arts)

Manghoe Lassi is just one of the many fabulous subjects featured in Canada's a Drag, a docu-series from CBC Arts that showcases drag artists from across the true North strong and fierce. You can watch all 21 episodes here.​

South Asian drag performer Manghoe Lassi doesn't know if they'll ever come out to their parents.

"I'm OK with that," they say. "There comes a point where you have to accept reality as a queer person who was raised Muslim. And that's OK. A lot of us are forced to come out because of what Western queerness tells us to do — like, we're told if you want to be a 'real gay' you have to come out. But you can live a happy life and not come out."

For Manghoe, part of that happy life is performing at Toronto events, utilizing their drag to bring awareness to the "existence of queer Desi folk and breaking the chains of toxic masculinity that hold so many of them back from expressing themselves."

"I don't think I've performed at anything that's not supporting queer people of colour or one of my friends," Manghoe says. "We don't really get the opportunity to shine as much as white queens, so it's important that I support people who are making space for us."

Watch the episode:

Episode 10 7:31

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Director: Trevor Anderson
​Episode Cinematographer: Mike McLaughlin
​Episode Editor: Sarah Taylor Bao
Episode Sound Recordist: Sarah Labadie
Packaging Editor: March Mercanti 
Titles Designer: Hope Little

Manghoe — the drag persona of Humza Ali Mian — never expected to become a performer. 

"I really thought I always was going to be an Instagram queen," Manghoe says. "And then one of my friends reached out to me. He hosts a queer South Asian party every few months — it's called Rangeela — and he was like, 'Girl, we're doing a 420 show, you have to perform.' And I was like, 'It's either now or I'm never going to do it.' And I took the chance and I really loved it. People really responded well to it, so I kept doing it."

Manghoe knows a lot of South Asian queer kids "feel like they don't exist because we aren't displayed anywhere."

"So it's important that people feel like they're important."

Manghoe Lassi gets ready for a big night. (CBC Arts)

As for how Manghoe relates to Humza?

"Manghoe is an extension of me, but I will never fully become her," they say. "She's just the femininity that I wasn't able to express as a child. Manghoe's the drag queen and Humza's the queer kid."

Follow Manghoe Lassi on Instagram

Meet the other 12 kings and queens in the second season of Canada's a Drag here.

About the Author

Peter Knegt

Peter Knegt has worked for CBC Arts since way back in 2016, with highlights including co-hosting weekly live talk show State of the Arts, writing the regular LGBTQ-culture column Queeries and playing integral roles in the launch of series The Filmmakers and Canada's a Drag. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films and the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.