As I knocked on my little boys’ door, I was ready to see his new look for the day.
Fabian, 10, didn’t dress like other boys his age, nor did he kick a football around or want to play video games all day.
He never liked any of that stereotypically ‘boy-ish’ stuff and would turn down his dad, Darren, 40, if he asked to play rugby with him or bought him toy cars.
So, when I walked into his bedroom to see Fabian trying out his new high heels, I felt nothing but pride for the person he was becoming.
Ever since Fabian was born in 2009, he’d been fascinated with fashion.
When he was four, he’d put my shoes on and pretend to walk down a catwalk, covered in jewellery he’d pinched from my room – much to my surprise.
‘Woo, go on Fabian!’ I’d cheer from the other side of the living room, as his dad looked on at us, slightly confused at what on earth was going on.
He’d gawk at the TV whenever any fashion shows came on and would ‘shush’ us if we spoke over them.
‘This is important to me,’ he’d mumble. ‘I want to be just like them.’
As the years passed, Fabian’s urge to dress up only got stronger.
One day, he turned to me curiously and asked: ‘Mummy, can I wear a skirt like that little girl?’
Wanting the best for my son, I of course said ‘yes’.
‘As long as you’re happy, I couldn’t care less what you wear love,’ I assured him.
He jogged happily home after hours of school that day, excited to rummage through my clothes again and let his alter ego out.
One morning in 2018, I took Fabian, then eight, to his best friend Evie’s house.
The pair always got along like a house on fire, with not a worry on their minds.
That’s when Fabian called me from Evie’s mobile just an hour after I’d left him.
‘Mum, I’ve got to show you something,’ he said excitedly.
‘Is everything alright?’ I asked frantically.
‘I’ve found other people like me!’ he cried out. ‘There’s a programme that Evie showed me, and it’s what I want to do. They understand who I am.’
‘What does he mean?’ I thought to myself. ‘What are ‘people’ like him?’
I picked him up to take him home that evening, and saw how Evie, 13, had helped dress my son in full make-up, complete with glittery heels and jewels fit for the Queen.
‘Blimey,’ I thought. ‘He is made for the stage.’
Later that evening, I cuddled up with him on the sofa in the living room to watch this ‘magic show’ Fabian had been talking about.
Ru Paul’s Drag Race – in all its eccentric glory – was blasting into my home and injecting my boy with a happiness I’d never seen before.
‘I want to be a drag queen,’ he stated. ‘I want to be beautiful like them.’
So, the process began.
If Fabian wanted to become a drag queen, then that’s what I would help him do.
Just like if he wanted to be a doctor – what right did I have to stand in the way of his happiness?
‘We need to get you a stage name,’ I told him. ‘Every successful drag queen has a drag name.’
Fabian thought long and hard about one for weeks on end, and eventually settled on Francheska Valley, a nice nod to his Welsh roots.
Quickly, Fabian’s performance side was showing more and more, with each day that went on.
I’d watch him prance around the living room, lip-syncing to his favourite pop songs like his drag icons on the TV.
Knowing my son was so confident within himself filled me with so much joy, but I also worried for him too.
As a mother, I knew how harsh the world could be to my boy, especially because of the way he presented himself.
‘They say I’m a girl mum. I’m a boy and I’m not gay either. I just like being Francheska,’ Fabian assured me.
‘Not everyone will be nice to you in this world,’ I told him. ‘Not everyone is as open and understanding as we are, you just have to remember who you are and pick yourself up.’
And, he did just that. Fabian’s confidence grew day by day, and even his dad started to understand who Francheska was.
When we had a baby boy, Darren thought it would be a little version of him – someone to kick a rugby ball around with and take to the pub when he was old enough.
But as Fabian came into his own, we both realised that wasn’t a lads lad.
‘Don’t wear that outside,’ Darren used to tell our son. ‘It’s embarrassing.’
I would sigh and walk away, but Fabian carried on without any hesitation.
‘It’s who I am dad. I’m a star!’ he beamed.
Slowly but surely, as Fabian found himself in the drag world more, Darren paid more interest too.
‘I have a show with my drama lesson this week,’ Fabian told us in the kitchen one day.
We’d seen him singing around the house practicing, but Darren flat out refused to go.
But the more we saw Fabian master his performances; the more Darren wanted to see his son glow. So much so he even came to the lip sync show in the end.
‘God,’ I thought as we both looked on. ‘This is my son. The most natural performer I’ve ever seen.’
‘I’m so proud,’ Darren said, tears welling in his eyes.
In 2019, we set up an Instagram page for him, and watched the followers reel in.
Of course, we still saw ‘burn in hell’ comments on there, but Fabian didn’t bat an eyelid.
Despite his young age, Fabian is the most strong-minded boy I’ve ever met.
Even in the face of controversy, he sashays away and gets on with what makes him happy.
When he was four, he was miserable in dinosaur shirts and surrounded by toy cars.
Now, Fabian has a wardrobe full of sparkly dresses and more earrings and jewellery than I can count – he’s even got more clothes than me!
Yes, he dances around in the aisles of Sainsbury’s whilst I do the weekly shop, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.
He’s the next drag superstar, and we’re the proudest parents around.