A lesson in drag
A recent campus climate survey found that UMD has discrepancies with inclusion, which comes as a concern to those participating in the Queer and Allied Student Union (QASU) drag show on Saturday Oct. 22 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Kirby Ballroom.
The university has a strategic plan that conflicts with the findings of the survey, including campus goals.
“Goal 2 (is to) create a positive and inclusive campus climate for all by advancing equity, diversity, and social justice,” according to UMD’s Strategic Planning website.
UMD often turns to the Multicultural Center (MC) to fulfill this goal.
“The mission of the Multicultural Center is to enhance academic achievement, create a sense of belonging, celebrate diversity and foster positive relations among UMD students, faculty and staff,” according to their website.
Groups in the MC host a variety of events throughout the year, educating the community about different cultures and ways of being. These groups are vital for the inclusivity of the campus.
The Queer and Allied Student Union (QASU), one of the groups located in the MC, is set to host their first drag show of the school year. The drag shows come once a semester and are QASU’s most popular events as they often sell out.
“Drag is a subculture within the LGBTQ community. It’s a large and expansive concept,” Sean Carpenter, QASU member, said at a drag 101 meeting.
The drag 101 meeting went over the history of drag and showed an example of someone transforming into a drag queen.
QASU expects respect at their drag shows, but acknowledges that there’s a lot of misinformation about what drag is.
“One person’s definition of drag could mean something else to someone else,” Carpenter said.
Drag 101 made it clear that drag is about breaking boundaries and gender norms, it’s exploring yourself and having fun.
With transphobic, homophobic and sexist results from the campus climate survey, the drag show comes at an interesting time for members of QASU.
“It’s not our job to educate people on the history of drag, but we can show them it’s more than what the media suggests,” Carpenter said.
Much of what people think drag is comes from the popular TV show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” While the show brings light to the drag community, it does not educate on the history of drag.
Drag stems from queer history and gay oppression. Drag shows became an outlet for men, women and genderqueer people to express themselves in a positive and fun way.
There are drag queens, drag kings and androgynous roles that people may choose to take on. A drag person is often thought to take on a persona that’s opposite of what gender the person was born as, but that’s not the case, according to the drag 101 meeting.
There are no rules or guidelines for drag. A person may independently and uniquely construct the character they wish to perform as.
“We don’t talk as much about drag kings, but they have equal value,” Carpenter said.
Even though drag allows people to push boundaries, it’s still not a perfect stage to promote inclusivity. QASU and the other groups in the MC simply allow for the conversations to begin with the events they host.
“We want it to be a good experience for everyone,” Carpenter said.
Tickets to the drag show will be available outside of the event.