Our Local Spotlight: Meet Gabriel Josué

Who is Gabriel Josué Rodríguez Velázquez?

Gabriel ‘Confusia’ Josué Rodríguez Velázquez is a stunning and innovating queer person that’s rising to fame. This talented female is also known as a drag queen and has released two singles in the last three months, in which she has addressed the nuances and roots of the LGBTTQ+ community in Puerto Rico, approached issues concerning homosexuality, and expressed her flamboyance all the way through. But who really is Confusia?

Gabriel Josué is the kind of woman that stops all action when she enters a room— all eyes immediately set on her. It doesn’t matter if her look is simplistic or her extensions are a bit low-key, she still radiates elegance everywhere she goes. Before sitting down for this interview, Gabriel Josué was preparing to model Gustavo Arango’s new designs in a local TV morning show. She considers herself multifaceted, as she hopes one day to dig deeper in her career as a model, singer, actress, and drag queen.

Confusia and Rodríguez Veláquez are the same person. Although her drag persona comes to life onstage, Confusia is not an alter-ego― Confusia is always present in Gabriel Josué.

The 20-year-old artist entered the music industry, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, a scene she never imagined she would be part of: “I never discovered that [talent] in me.” Filled with insecurity and little-to-no vocal technique, she found comfort in rap.

“I decided to be a rapper. A Puerto Rican trans rapper. […] [Rapping] is my way of expressing more fluently,” expressed Confusia of her newfound passion. Her love for rhyme has made her feel like she can turn anything into song.

Gabriel Josué considers her writing process to be rare and “still in development,” since she is new to the genre. Nobody expected her to do trap music: “They [people] took it as a shock factor. […] The reception has been well-received, and people want me to keep releasing songs.”

Based on her experiences as a trans woman, her goal in music is to change the perception of the reggaeton/trap genre and the misconceptions associated with it, such as misogyny, machismo, discrimination towards femininity in men from the LGBTTQ+ community, and even femmephobia.

Kevin Fret, a gay Puerto Rican trap rapper, was murdered in January of 2019, an event that Confusia mentioned as she remarked the lack of LBGTTQ+ representation in the industry. “I’ll always see Kevin Fret as an inspiration.” This pushed Gabriel Josué to step into the local scene and bring her creativity into production.

However, she emphasizes how the stigmatizing environment created by producers in Puerto Rico contributes to the lack of representation: “Not every producer wants to work with trans or queer artists in general.”

In her case, she has been lucky to have an open-minded producer called Jahdyelo. He is professional and respectful towards her pronouns. Yet, Gabriel is aware of what it takes to actually make it to a commercial recording studio: “It’s a very expensive process,” Rodríguez Velázquez clarifies. “It’s related to the dedication and music quality you want to bring to the studio.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by 🕊Gabriel Josué🕊 (@gaybrieljosue) on

Photo via @gaybrieljosue

Showing her activism and transparency

Her first single, “Ser Trans? Normal En Mí” (“Being trans? Normal in me”), is a diss track for every transphobe that doesn’t acknowledge her identity as a trans woman. Her music empowers others to own their identities, especially “young trans kids who are growing up in homophobic houses. There’s a world outside that wants to see your talents and is ready for y’all.”

Gabriel Josué is clear on her role as a performer, and she is passionate about bringing awareness to important issues about her identity and sexual orientation. She recognizes that it’s not every LGBTTQ+ member’s duty to school or teach people about what’s right or wrong: “Not everyone has the energy nor the will to. It’s a very important topic, but we are not bound to inform them. It has to come from them.”

Nonetheless, she has developed strength from the words that once hurt her. Insults such as maricón, pato, or ponka, were delivered aggressively to her for being an “effeminate gay boy” when she was only 15 years old. 

Confusia questions the constant femmephobia within the gay scene, which can even lead to misgendering trans women as “ponkas” and the trans slur. Due to the latter, “Arcoíris Pa’ Las Ponkas” (“Rainbow for the Ponkas”), her latest single, is dedicated: “to them, to embrace their feminine side; it has nothing to do with your gender expression.” Gabriel Josué describes Arcoíris as “a mood. To forget about the Masc4Masc and to enjoy it by the beach.”

According to the artist, her music is suited to “motivate you to exercise, on your way to a casting, to learn about the new ‘slangs,’ while also stating that her songs are a big “IDGAF.” Her confidence is a big part of who she is, but it hasn’t always been that way.

“I wasn’t always comfortable with myself,” Rodríguez Velázquez explains while confessing her struggles with anorexia and her issues with bullying due to her acne and hair. She states: “I know I am privileged, and it’s been hard for me to achieve it (confidence).”

Confusia describes her confidence as extravagant, but without feeling superior to anybody.

“If people are insecure, it bothers them (in general); if they’re overly confident, [it bothers them] too.” As a model, she’s aware of the prejudice toward fame and power, but it’s always been her motivation. She’s ambitious, wants to see herself walk on red carpets, attend the Met Gala, be on the cover of Vogue Magazine, and so much more! 

“Some people idolize others like me, and they applaud them, but because we’re locals, we seem self-centered.” Gabriel doesn’t need to reassure anything to anyone. She knows her place and she’s struggling “like a normal person.” She elaborates: “I used to think that my goals would accomplish as a model or drag queen, but now, discovering rap music, I feel like I can make my dreams come true faster.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by 🕊Gabriel Josué🕊 (@gaybrieljosue) on

Photo via @gaybrieljosue

Speed round questions

After every interview, we ask artists about their current likes in music and inspirations from their own local scene.

Last song you heard:

"Vroom Vroom" by Charli XCX.

Spotify or Apple Music:

Spotify, obviously!

Favorite song ATM:

It’s from Princess Nokia’s last album, a song called "Fee Fi Foe."

Most awaited album (at the time):

Bairópolis by Ana Macho, what a mood.

Favorite local artist:

Me! But… (long pause) Write Princess Nokia down, she’s Puerto Rican.

Which artist would you like to collaborate with?

With Princess Nokia! She is a mood!

First song you’d like to hear hanging out after quarantine:

"React" by Pussycat Dolls… Wait! (long pause) "Sana Sana" by Nathy Peluso, YES!

Musical inspirations:

Nathy Peluso, I like Miley Cyrus… I like Rosalía, Lady Gaga, Sevdaliza, she’s too much… Arca! SOPHIE, Kim Petras, and Pablo Vittar.

Guilty pleasure:

It’s a very explicit song… but I don’t care if people listen to it… "Candela" by Eladio Carrión.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by 🕊Gabriel Josué🕊 (@gaybrieljosue) on

Photo via @gaybrieljosue

Confusia is determined to keep evolving as an artist and is considering even investing in some singing lessons. Eventually, she would like to explore other music genres, such as R&B and soulful ballads. 

As an inside scoop, Rodríguez Velázquez shared with HerCampus at UPR her upcoming projects. Her debut album will be titled Ser Trans? Normal En Mí, while a music video for the titular track is in the making, and the artist hinted at the possibility of a new single in December.