Lights flashed and music played as five drag queens took the stage in the LSC Conference Room on Thursday, Oct. 2.
Even now, it continues to spark dialogue amongst students.
Senior Taylor Hartman, vice president of Allies, said, “I really love that this is happening. Last year, it was like it took 10 years to put it on. So, now it’s easy and just a breeze for us,” said Hartman. “I don’t know why people think it’s detrimental to people’s morals, but I think that’s how some look at it.”
Last October, the drag show prompted not only advocacy from supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community, but also objections from a student protestor.
Approximately 275 people showed up to the event on Thursday. This year’s attendance showed an increase from last year’s 205 attendees.
Salomon Rodezno, the program coordinator for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, explained that the show is one of SUPB’s most attended programs. Also, it is intended to be a part of programming for years to come.
“The drag show has a positive impact on the campus’ commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Rodezno. “The featured drag queens are a mix of professional local entertainers. Having drag queens on campus has allowed students to learn about a small part of the Cleveland lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer culture. The program is a mix of entertainment and education.”
For drag queen Shari Turner, performing at a Catholic University was not much different than any other performance.
“I’ve done the show at John Carroll before, so it’s not that different for me. Of course, I had to take into consideration when choosing what numbers to do – no curse words, nothing too sexy– but besides that, I think it’s like every other show,” said Turner.
However, some students felt the show was inappropriate. Students also expressed mixed feelings about the show coming to campus.
“It’s just that they’re men dressed as women, and I feel like that’s just weird,” said sophomore Amy Awadalla. “It shouldn’t be like that. It’s just scary.”
Freshman Jessica Swisher had a similar opinion.
“It can go against a lot of people’s views. Some of the things they said could be inappropriate,” said Swisher. “They pretended to pray and said, ‘forgive us for all of the sins we are about to commit tonight,’ so it was very direct.”
Many students came to the show out of curiosity.
Freshman Dylan Regan said, “Honestly, I’ve never been to one before. I saw the flyers, I was curious, and I said ‘Well, you know what, might as well. Don’t see why not,’” said Reagan. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It’s a show. I think shows are meant to be enjoyed.”
Several local diversity organizations were at the event, including the John Carroll Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Catholic Pride with the Dioceses of Cleveland, Sistah Sinema and Equality Ohio.
Joyce Buchanan, representative for the Catholic Diocese’s booth “Catholic Pride,” felt the drag show was about spreading awareness.
“We are here with the representatives of the Catholic Dioceses of Cleveland, the gay and lesbian family ministry,” said Buchanan. “We were here last year for the event. As a parent of a lesbian daughter, I am very supportive of her and the whole ministry.”
The purpose of the event, according to Hartman, was so “people of LGBTQ heritage can celebrate the culture.” He added, “We can show people that we’re not saying that ‘we’re here and we’re queer’ and shoving it down people’s throats; it’s part of our heritage. The drag queens in the 1960s, they were the ones that started the gay rights movement,” said Hartman. “It’s part of our history.”