Disclaimer: This story was written right after the New Year in 2020, but is being published now to celebrate Copenhagen Pride 2020, August 17 – 23 – which, of course, will take place online.
“Okay, let’s pray to the makeup gods,” says Finn Ferjá as he takes a deep breath and opens a palette of bright eyeshadows with names like ‘Shuffle’, ‘Guilty’ and ‘Hustle’.
It is 12:30 PM and Finn Ferjá has spent two hours on his beauty routine, which will eventually transform him into Miss Boogie O’Kayla. His drag companion. This afternoon on Tuesday November 19, 2019, Miss Boogie – AKA Miss CBS – will host a Drag Bingo event with her drag-friend Annie Rection.
It is only about 3.5 years since the Faroese CBS graduate was in a hotel room with a girlfriend putting on foundation and lipstick for the first time ever. Now, he has a closet dedicated to his sequin dresses, voluminous wigs and boxes of killer heels and boots, as well as an entire dressing table full of drawers bursting with make-up accessories to make Miss Boogie look smashing.
And Finn Ferjá has not been afraid of getting Miss Boogie out there. She has done shows at nursing homes and bars, been Miss CBS for the past three Copenhagen Pride Parades, and hosted Faroe Pride twice. Doing basically what drag queens usually do, entertaining people. Now, according to Finn Ferjá, the time is ripe to strive for something more.
With his master’s degree Cand.merc.int in Diversity and Change Management, he dreams about making drag compatible with a professional business career.
“I have a passion for diversity and inclusion, and with this master’s I felt I had found my academic calling. So why not try to combine that with my hobby, Miss Boogie? It would be like combining the best of both worlds,” says Finn Ferjá.
Chapter 1 – Being different
Finn Ferjá knew from a very young age that he was different. What kind of different, he didn’t really know. He just didn’t like playing with action figures or playing handball like the other boys from his school in Kollafjørður.
“I somehow knew I had to hide that I liked playing with Barbie dolls. I was unconsciously ashamed of it. I thought what I was doing was wrong,” says Finn Ferjá.
Finn Ferjá explains that when he still lived at his parents’ he only knew of one guy being openly gay in the Faroe Islands.
“He was different. But not different like me. I wasn’t sure what I felt, and I couldn’t just look it up on Google, as the internet wasn’t easily accessible at the time. So, I just thought I was wrong somehow. Especially because there was a strong focus on choosing the path of God in the community, and if you didn’t choose the right path, you would burn in hell. And when that’s the only source of information, it’s difficult to be critical,” he says and continues:
“But eventually, I had to take a stand because I didn’t fit in.”
In 2012, Finn Ferjá moved to Denmark to begin studying Business, Asian Language and Culture at CBS. At that point, Finn Ferjá knew he was gay. But he wasn’t exactly open about it.
“I just tried to fit in as Finn, and sort of find myself in the new environment. Like every other new student,” he explains.
When people back home asked questions about his sexuality, he didn’t respond directly. He told one, at the time, close girlfriend that he was probably bisexual, and revealed to another close friend that he was gay. But that was it.
Actually, Finn Ferjá had planned to not tell his parents that he was gay. At all.
“I’d rather wait till they died, than come out of the closet,” he says.
But it did not exactly go according to plan. One evening in Copenhagen, Finn Ferjá’s phone rang. It was a friend from the Faroe Islands. She asked why he never told her that he was gay. His heart skipped a beat.
The friend who, years back, had been told – off the record – that Finn Ferjá was bisexual had suddenly told more people. So with people talking, Finn Ferjá had to confront his parents.
“When I was younger and there was something on TV about LGBT, my mother would ask ‘You are not one of them, right’? So when I told my parents via Skype that I was gay….
“We didn’t talk for days, and we would normally Skype pretty often,” he says.
Chapter 2 – There’s a first time for everything
Eventually, Finn Ferjá had to go back home to the Faroe Islands to visit his parents and meet up with his friends and family, who now knew he was gay.
“I was very nervous. I felt like a bull in a china shop. But no one said anything or even talked about it. Somehow it felt as if a wall had been torn down, and I felt much better considering the circumstances,” he says.
This was in 2013. And that year, things started to change for Finn Ferjá. He started exploring his sexuality more. He dated, visited bars, met other Faeroese homosexuals and started figuring out who he was.
He also started consulting a life coach to work through some challenges that he had been struggling with for a long time.
“From a very young age, I have been concerned about what other people think about me, and, as I was forced to be open about my sexuality, I wasn’t sure whether I had to be ashamed or not. I needed some guidance in terms of standing my ground as a person,” he says.
At around the same time, while Finn Ferjá was consulting his coach, he also started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. An American reality competition TV series that documents RuPaul’s search for America’s next drag superstar. At a certain point, he thought to himself: “This is quite fun. Maybe I should try it”.
“A friend of mine had been given a stay at a hotel by her mother, so we decided to meet at the hotel. I had bought a lipstick and foundation, which, of course, didn’t suit my skin color. But I did it, and that was the first time I wore makeup,” explains Finn Ferjá about that day in October 2016 when it all started.
“To me, it felt like an event. It was a result of the personal work I had done over the past couple of years. It just felt right. It felt exciting. And I felt gorgeous with the makeup on. It was so empowering.”
Chapter 3 – Hello Miss Boogie O’Kayla
On Finn Ferjá’s bed lies a sparkling blue sequin dress with golden pearls sewn on to it. It is accompanied by a pink bra. The dress was specifically made for him by another drag queen back in 2017.
“I felt complete when I got the dress. My very own dress,” he says.
Beside the blue dress lies another one. Finn Ferjá looks at them both.
“I think I’ll wear the blue one for the Drag Bingo because it is at CBS, and they will know me as Miss CBS if I’m in the blue one.”
Since that October day in 2016, things have evolved quite fast for Finn Ferjá. He started wearing heels at home, bought more make-up and a wig, and then he just went out to parties and bars with his friends clad in drag.
“It was liberating. I felt like I could do anything. More than Finn could do on his own. And the strength and empowerment I gained from being in drag rubbed off on Finn too,” he says.
Finn Ferjá’s drag side-kick was eventually named Miss Boogie O’Kayla, and what first started as a personal platform to become more confident and less obsessed with other peoples’ thoughts and opinions, turned out to be a useful medium for expressing other and bigger messages.
“I didn’t know what I would achieve or what opportunities I would have as Miss Boogie when I first started. In 2017, I was asked to be Miss CBS for CBS’ attendance at Copenhagen Pride Parade, and Finn would never have been able to do that. But Miss Boogie could. And as Miss Boogie, I could communicate a message about encouraging a more inclusive and diverse university environment. Finn wouldn’t get the same attention,” he says.
And then he got a call from the Faroe Islands. The LGBT community up there had heard about Miss Boogie and had an offer for her.
Finn Ferjá immediately felt the old feelings from his visit to the Faroe Islands after coming out as gay. What would it be like? What would people think of him in drag?
“But no. I decided that I didn’t want to let my own notions of what I thought other people would think of me control me. So I said yes,” he says.
Chapter 4 – Rising Phoenix
Finn Ferjá went home to the Faroe Islands to host the pride parade, but he did not tell his parents. They knew he was coming for the pride event, but not that he would be hosting it as Miss Boogie O’Kayla.
Until they saw him on social media and in the local news.
“I was so nervous about it. But everything went really well, and when I’m in drag, I can give a little more of myself. Although Finn often asks himself ‘Why did you even say yes to this?’ Miss Boogie is there to prove to me that I can do it,” he says.
He explains that while the pride event was going on in Tórshavn, a group of people gathered on a mountain to pray “for the lost souls and that they would find the path of God”.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t have anyone to mirror myself in. So creating Miss Boogie and returning to the Faroe Islands made me feel like a rising phoenix. I want to show young people that it’s okay to be different, and that they should be themselves. And I’m ready as Miss Boogie to spread my wings and defend the youth of today and the right to be who you want to be.”
But it’s not only about being a role model for the Faroe Islands’ younger generations.
During Finn Ferjá’s studies at CBS, he has specialized in academic topics such as diversity, inclusion, management and organization, and at first, he thought that being Miss Boogie would just be his hobby. However, multiple times, Finn Ferjá has experienced that Miss Boogie can reach a different crowd, and in the past couple of months, an idea has been growing in his mind.
“What if I could combine my academic and professional career with Miss Boogie? What if I could use Miss Boogie as a platform or an outlet for telling people about diversity and inclusion at workplaces?” he reflects.
Initially, he thought that it would not happen anytime soon. However, lately, he has “given the idea more consideration than I thought I would,” as he says.
Finn Ferjá pictures it like this: He would have a part-time job in the ‘corporate’ world, and work part time as a diversity and inclusion consultant, but in the guise of Miss Boogie.
“Businesses and organizations could hire Miss Boogie for workshops and lectures about diversity and inclusion management. And although men in women’s clothes are still something of a novelty, I think Miss Boogie has a chance here to be useful for something other than entertainment,” he says and gives an example of what Miss Boogie could help businesses and corporations with.
“One thing that’s very interesting is how businesses can stay competitive in the future, and here diversity plays a huge role. Research shows that diverse teams create more innovative and competitive products and solutions,” he says.
“Diversity is not something that you can just hire. It’s also about looking into the organization and asking ‘What skills do we have in house, and how do we use them in the best way possible?’ It’s not enough to say we have two women on the board if all they do is write the meeting minutes.”
At CBS’ Café Nexus, Miss Boogie and Annie Rection, both clad in sequin from top to toe and makeup that would turn many people green with envy, take the stage for a round of Drag Bingo.
“Helloooooo! My name is Miss Boogie, AKA Miss CBS,” says Miss Boogie as she saunters around the café in her glitter platform shoes.
For now, Finn Ferjá is okay with doing jobs as Miss Boogie that are entirely about entertainment because just a year ago, he didn’t even think he could use his sassy sidekick for anything else.
“Who would have thought what three seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race could lead to? I would never have foreseen where I would be at this point. It feels like all the different directions that I have been heading towards my entire life are now finally coming together. I mean, Finn has an education that Miss Boogie can use,” he says.
*All pronouns in this fabulous article have been personally approved by Finn and Miss Boogie