Anthony Medina had an exuberant enjoyment of life. His joie de vivre was reflected in his love of theatre, dance, hairstyling and gender-bending performances. He died on Thursday at his Diego Martin home from prostate cancer at 75.
His brother Gregory Medina said eight years ago he had an enlarged prostate and had that treated. This year, Medina discovered he had prostate cancer.
“He stood a lot as a hairdresser. He got back pains. Eventually, he went to the hospital to check it out and found out the cancer spread though his body,” Gregory said,
Medina grew up in Belmont. He was the eldest of six.
Gregory said there was never a point in time when Medina was not himself.
“He was always theatrical.”
His passion for putting on a show was sparked when he was seven and got a makeup kit as a gift. From then he entertained his family and neighbours.
Medina never really hid who he was or had to come out of the closet. He was who he was until the day he died, Gregory said.
Medina never described himself as a drag queen, as that was usually a profession – he was a hairdresser by trade. He was considered a gender illusionist who impersonated starlets such as Judy Garland and Liza Minelli.
Iron Pot was a secret gay club in the 90s on Abercrombie Street. There, under the name Kitty Karess, he would entertain. He was a ballet dancer and an actor who dressed as a woman in the TV series Westwood Park.
In his last performance, he dressed up as Minelli at the Little Carib Theatre for a Pride TT event in July 2019.
His close friend and landlady Maria Nunes said she never heard Medina describe himself as a gender illusionist, but just as a performer. He lived in an annexed apartment in her home for 14 years and she was one of the few people he spent time with up to his death. Nunes said though his close circle knew about the severity of his cancer, she did not expect he would die so soon.
For seven years Nunes has been working on a documentary to tell his life story.
His ex-partner Rudolph Hanamji, 37, said they swore commitment to each other privately in their home, and though it was not legal, Hanamji said they were each other’s husbands. Medina’s favourite song was Billie Holiday’s I’ll be Seeing You, and Hanamji had been listening to it yesterday.
The two were together for seven years, but separated eight years ago and remained amicable.
Medina was one of the major helpers in TT Pride, participating in shows and acting as a mentor for younger people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) community.
Hanamji said, “He lived an authentic life. Anthony never had apologies or regrets about who he was. He was always willing to share and teach others."