THE WILLIE–NILLIE FACTS OF OUR BIOGRAPHIES, of our families and personal histories often make growing up no piece of cake.
For example: Paul is dyslexic. Reading and following oral instructions has always been difficult, and his teachers and peers told him he was stupid.
Also, Paul is gay and got grief for this from everybody in his life, except his grandparents.
So he had a choice. Either he accepted the putdowns, the slights, the judgments, or do what he did — say, I do not accept what you say or your judgment.
It worked. He now has a full, rich, confident life, at home with himself. And he has just written a very good fable about Cinderella — as a gay man.
How do you describe yourself?
The highest title that I have is that I am the Half Empress, the 25th Half Empress of the Imperial Court of New Mexico. My first title is Miss Santa Fe Pride 2011, then I was called back into service in 2017 as Miss New Mexico Gay Rodeo Association.
Your family has lived here for a while.
My family were the first family asked by the King of Spain to come here to found the kingdom of Santa Fe and the kingdom of Nuevo Mexico in new Spain. This is about the 1600s. We were invited because we specialized in pottery-making that did not involve lead.
We were also favored by the crown, because of our works for the church, although my family is not European; they are Greek.
My great, great, great, great grandfather married an indigenous woman from Mexico. My grandmother and my grandfather entered into Santa Fe as the first people who were non-European and documented to set foot here.
I get my Griego name through my mother’s side. In the Spanish experience, we tend to hold onto all of our names because we want to show where we came from. So I’m Paul Steven Octavius Griego de Valdez de Polley. We’re also very indigenous, very Picuris, but we still carry our Spanish surname.
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