Southeast shows off PRIDE for annual drag show
It’s an unusual, albeit growing, artform that has become a Southeast tradition.
Every year, Southeast’s PRIDE association, in conjunction with the university’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center, hosts a free drag show that welcomes any and all students to participate. Amateurs and professionals participate in the show by lip-syncing a song of their choice in front of hundreds of people. During this performance, participants bring to life an alter-ego of the opposite gender and improvise by interacting with the audience, taking tips and feeding off the general atmosphere.
PRIDE president and sophomore Abby Lewis feels the event is a great opportunity to see students come out of their shells.
“It’s really wonderful to see a group of people who are normally underrepresented get to show their true selves to people,” she said. “They put their heart and soul into this performance.”
Student Government Association president Peyton Mogley is among the drag show newcomers this year, and she said she sees the show as a way to educate and encourage people from all walks of life.
“I think what’s really special about performance in drag is it’s very much an artform, like going to a museum or other place of art,” she said. “Not everybody might see it this way, but I think it’s important to showcase because it shows you a little bit more about where somebody’s coming from or why they are the way they are.”
Mogley said although the idea of participating in a drag show was a departure from her usual comfort zone, she wanted to participate because she was inspired by a friend last year.
Her persona is a drag king named Alex Pane, and he is a “punk rock, semi-gothic” character who, according to Mogley, was largely inspired by musician Adam Lambert.
“[He’s] supposed to kind of give off this edge,” she said. “I decided to take a risk and step out of my comfort zone, not only in the fact that I’ll be performing, but performing to a genre that I’m not really familiar with singing.”
Like Mogley, fellow newcomer and Southeast sophomore Monica Owens wanted to be a part of the show to have fun while pushing herself out of her comfort zone.
“I went to the spring drag show and I thought it looked like the performers were having so much fun and that if I performed I could be a totally different person and put on a character that is so unlike me,” she said.
Lewis said the response to Southeast’s drag shows has typically been positive. She noted that most audience members tend to view it more as a theatrical performance than anything else.
Additionally, many professional drag kings and queens perform with the amateurs. Annual drag show emcee/drag king Faim Lee Jewels and drag queen Ceduxion Carrington are a few professionals who participate. The profession has a growing population, with shows much like Southeast’s held nationwide and television series like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” garnering widespread acclaim. Media organizations like Buzzfeed have also made videos focusing on the artform.
For those who may want to participate in the show in the future, the advice from everyone was unanimous: commit and don’t be afraid to try something new and be yourself.
“It takes a lot of guts to perform for the first time,” Lewis said. “We really want to stress that everyone is welcome and that they can come and be supported by everyone.”
“Last year I joined PRIDE here at Southeast, and I made so many good friends through it,” Owens said. “It made me feel like I belonged on our campus and to not be afraid to be myself because I would be accepted.”
“It’s my hope that [students] will be encouraged and inspired to ask the very questions that you are,” Mogley said. “This is the type of thing that is supposed to make you think.”
For more information about PRIDE at Southeast or the LGBTQ+ Resource Center, please call (573) 651-2677, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the center in person, located in the University Center’s Center for Student Involvement, room 204.