‘I couldn’t breathe anymore’: San Antonio drag queen hopes to grace stage again after long battle with COVID-19

‘I had to learn how to do things that I can say that I took for granted,’ Alayna Marquez says

KSAT12's Ivan Herrera shares a San Antonio drag queen's journey of recovery following a battle with COVID-19.

SAN ANTONIO – A months-long battle with COVID-19 isn’t stopping one San Antonio drag performer from making a comeback to the stage later this year.

The life of San Antonio drag queen Alayna Marquez was at risk in a matter of days last November after contracting COVID-19.

“From one day to the next, my whole life changed. I got up. I said, ‘I am going to take a shower. I’m going to drive myself to the hospital.’ Once I got out of the shower, I couldn’t breathe anymore,” Alayna said.

Alayna said she had to work as much as she could to make ends meet after the pandemic shut down her barber salon and the venues where she emceed and hosted contests for months.

“I was going to work every day, wash my hands like I normally do -- things that I learned that I was taught from getting my license as a cosmetologist,” Alayna said.

But the precautions weren’t enough to keep the virus from infecting her. With a worsening condition, Alayna had to call an ambulance to save her life.

“I heard the paramedic tell the driver, ‘Floor it.’ And that only means that I’m hitting a serious point on my health,” she said.

Once Alayna arrived at the hospital, her outlook was grim. Doctors confirmed her COVID-19 diagnosis, and they needed to work fast to control symptoms.

“That’s when the doctor came in and told me, ‘We need to intubate you. We need to put you in a coma because you have double-COVID pneumonia,’” Alayna said.

While Alayna recovered, she had a support system on the outside that was raising money to help with hospital bills and waiting for her to come back and find her spotlight once more.

“Up to like the last two weeks, I finally was able to answer every single person that messaged me, that sent me prayers, that sent me well wishes for me to get better,” Alayna said.

The road to recovery wasn’t easy for Alayna while having to re-learn essential life functions. She was finally released from the hospital in early February.

“I had to learn a lot -- had to learn how to brush my teeth again. I had to learn how to walk. I had to learn how to do things that I can say that I took for granted,” she said.

Alayna said she will make her comeback as soon as she’s feeling better. She says she’s grateful to those who have supported her during a difficult time.

“I’m just happy and blessed to be here. San Antonio, I love you, and thank you,” Alayna said with a smile.


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About the Author:

Ivan Herrera has worked as a journalist in San Antonio since 2016. His work for KSAT 12 and KSAT.com includes covering breaking news of the day, as well as producing Q&As and content for the "South Texas Pride" and "KSAT Money" series.