You probably best know Broward boy Daniel Franzese from his breakout role as Damian in the 2004 cult hit Mean Girls (in which character Janis Ian deems him “almost too gay to function.”) Fast-forward a few years, and Franzese is still gay and definitely still functioning—in everything from his one-man show, Italian Mom Loves You, to his podcast, Yasss, Jesus!, not to mention his role on HBO’s Looking and appearances as both a judge and a queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Celebrity Drag Race. FLI caught up with the beloved hometown multi-hyphenate to find out about life after Mean Girls.
FLI: You’ve been on screen and now you’re touring on stage. What’s your favorite medium?
Franzese: I love a live audience. I think I’m just an entertainer. Even if I’m doing a television show or movie, I’m performing for the crew. I love hearing live reactions. I love when a crew has to stifle laughter while they’re working. That’s my sweet spot.
What’s in the works?
I’m working on a Chicken Soup for the Soul–type book called Prayers From a Drag Queen, which is a collection of all of these prayers that I’ve collected from drag queens. I think there’s so much going on right now between Christians and drag queens that it would be nice to hear what drag queens think that Christians should know about them, and what prayers a drag queen would have for a Christian.
Why is advocating for the LGBTQ+ community so important?
I go to Washington, D.C., every year as an ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to speak on behalf of people who are living with HIV and AIDS. I’m negative, but I play an HIV-positive character on HBO’s Looking. I guess I know too much to not help, and there’s so much that’s going on. I might not be the smartest person in the room, and I may not have the most knowledge, but being somebody who is celebrated in some circles and especially in the queer community … that just means I have a megaphone in my hand.
June is Pride Month. What does Pride mean to you?
I think it’s an opportunity for us to be together in a safe space and be able to share in the joy of what it means to be fully yourself. A lot of queer people have to constantly be on edge or survey [things] every time we walk into a room, especially in our youth, to see if we’re in a safe place or if we’re welcome. Pride is a place where you’re safe, you’re welcome, and you can just be yourself and have a good time. That’s why our sacred spaces are really important and you need to protect them, especially after what happened in Orlando at Pulse or what happened at Q Bar.