11/15/2013 08:01 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

10 Reasons to Love the Man Behind the Queen

Tom Bartolomei

A few weeks ago I received a Facebook message from a drag queen in Portland asking me if I ever thought of writing a piece along the lines of "Reasons It's OK to Date a Drag Queen." I will be honest: I never did, because drag has just become a part of my life. Plus, like I always say, Jeff and I were "we" before Vivian, and we will be "we" after Vivian. Jeff being a drag queen is a non-issue for me. But then I started to wonder, "Would I feel the same way if Vivian existed before we were 'we'?"

At first, my honest response was, "I don't know." Then I started to think about it, and I can honestly say that if Vivian had existed when I met Jeff, I would still have been attracted to Jeff. He is an amazing man, and Vivian is just one part of Jeff. I love Jeff, and that means every part of him. Whether those parts are good or bad, when you love someone, you love every part of them. Now, I'm not saying that Vivian is a bad part of Jeff, because I honestly feel just the opposite. In my opinion, Vivian is everything good about Jeff. What makes Vivian such an attractive drag queen is Jeff and his amazing heart. You can be the most beautiful drag queen on the outside, but if you are ugly at your core, that will come across in your art.

So why do I feel it's OK to love the man behind the queen? Well, let me list some reasons. And I don't feel that it's just OK to love the man behind the queen; I think everyone should love one at least once in their lives.

1. I have found that the men behind the painted faces have the biggest hearts of any individuals I have ever known. They are the first to support a cause or help raise money for a charity. Why wouldn't you want to love someone with such a big heart? Their capacity to care and love knows no bounds.

2. These men know who they are. They have an abundance of self-confidence and are extremely brave. If they weren't, they would not be able to take the stage and do what they do. After all, drag isn't for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work, dedication and talent to paint a face, don a dress and get on that stage and perform.

3. When you love a man who performs in drag, your life will always be interesting. There is no way to compare life before Jeff created Vivian with life after he created Vivian, because they are completely different. Before, life was kind of boring, but after, life is always interesting and keeps me on my toes. The planning process for shows takes on a life of its own. It's never the same thing twice.

4. They are the best lovers. Granted, Jeff is the only man I have been with who performs in drag, and hopefully that will always be the case, but I have been with my share of men, and Jeff is by far the best (clarification: not as Vivian!).

5. When you are with a man who does drag, you meet so many creative and talented people that there is no way that your own creative juices can't get a-flowing. We've met people from every possible artistic walk of life, and it's been such an incredible experience. The impact that you can have on your community grows exponentially as your center of influence grows. How is it anything but an amazing, humbling experience to be able to pool resources for the greater good?

6. Loving these men shows you just how much you love them. Before Jeff started performing as Vivian, I knew I loved him, but I never knew just how much until I was supporting and helping him in his drag career. It's a great feeling to experience a type of love that you didn't think existed.

7. When you are with a man who is a drag queen, it almost forces you to be involved with your community, and when you are introverted like me, that is a good thing. Drag means charity events, parties, and photos. Drag queens are always interacting with the community, so by default, you are as well.

8. Dating a drag queen gives you the opportunity to raise money for some incredible charities. In the four years since Jeff created Vivian, I have helped him raise money for the Columbus Gays Men's Chorus, Project Zero: Ohio, ARC Ohio, and the Gay World Series, to name a few. There is nothing better than giving back to the community

9. Quite simply, it's fun. Being with a man who performs in drag is always fun. Yes, there are some not-so-fun times, but these men always bring the fun, and why wouldn't you want to be with someone who can do that? We have fun whether Jeff is performing as Vivian or we're just out as Jeff and Tom supporting any of our many friends who perform in drag or attending a friend's gallery opening.

10. Love is blind. It's what we as a community are fighting for in our struggles for marriage equality and equal protection under the law, so why wouldn't we apply that to our own community and falling in love within our community? The main point here is that you're not falling in love with the drag queen's persona but with the man beneath the makeup.

To me, loving a person is about who that person is at their core and how they make me feel. If you find someone who is an amazing person, makes you happy and makes you want to be a better person, then why should it matter whether they wear a dress or not? That is just one very small part of who they are. If you let that one part influence your decision, you may miss out on the love of a lifetime. So the next time you meet someone and they say the words, "I do drag," don't let that stop you from giving them a chance. You never know: You may find your "Vivian" and experience an incredible love story, just like I did.

To read more about why I love the man behind the queen, visit The Diary of a Drag Queen's Husband.