William Dennis’s entry into drag came about innocuously. A friend told him he’d be good at it, so he gave it a try about two years ago.
His first appearance as alter ego Inertia Dolce came about through a queen competition hosted by Ba’Naka at JR.’s.
Last year at this time, against hundreds of other contestants, he won the High Heel Race wearing a pair of knee-high dominatrix-style boots. A trained runner, he says the key to not breaking an ankle is running on the front part of the foot.
“I enjoy drag because it gives me a chance to have an outlet for another side of my persona,” he says.
He came to Washington in 2008 after college. Dennis started as a server at Grillfish but worked his way up to management and in July, moved over to Commissary (same owner as Grillfish), the popular P Street restaurant he says is “always busy.”
The 27-year-old Spring Lake, N.C., native lives in Columbia Heights with his boyfriend of nine months, Kyle Craig.
He is planning to run again in this year’s race, slated for Tuesday night from 7-10 p.m. on 17th Street, N.W. (find the event on Facebook for details).
Dennis enjoys video games, kickball, tennis, TV and Netflix in his spare time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since I was 14. The hardest person to tell was my mother, because I didn’t want to disappoint her.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Honestly I’d have to say RuPaul. Due to the fact that I do drag, she’s been an inspiration in helping not only me but others in my community to become more comfortable expressing themselves through this type of art.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Describe your dream wedding.
I’ve never really given it much thought to be honest. I do know I want it to be outside, near a body of water, with close family and friends.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Higher education reform.
What historical outcome would you change?
The blood donation laws that prohibit gay men from donating blood.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Watching and falling in love with “Queer as Folk.” For me that was a big pop culture moment even though it was only somewhat mainstream. It was a great way to get a sense of gay culture before I immersed myself in it personally.
On what do you insist?
I insist on being around folks who live with a good moral compass, who are compassionate to those in need and carry themselves with a positive attitude.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
It was probably something dealing with Commissary, the restaurant I manage.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Paint, Glitter, & Booze in the Big City: the story of William Dennis.” Or something like that.
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I wouldn’t change a thing! I’m accepting and loving of who I am.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I do believe in a higher being. Rather it be God or some other spiritual force, I know there is some sort of energy that helps us make certain decisions and guide us into the right direction.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
That’s a tough one! I think it would be more of a question. I would like to ask them what they are doing for underrepresented LGBT communities.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That all flamboyant men are non masculine or non athletic.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Party Monster,” “Camp” and “Paris is Burning.”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
I don’t think I can pinpoint just one!
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My college degree. I was the first person in my family to attend and graduate college.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
About half of the things I know now! I wish I knew there was a community like the one I have when I was 18. Growing up in rural North Carolina, I didn’t have that community or those friends.
I traveled up here often when in college for conferences, meetings, etc. I got a post undergrad fellowship doing electoral organizing in Northern Virginia. After that I decided I didn’t want to go back to North Carolina and I had started making a solid community of friends, so I decided to stay.