Start seeking out your feather boas and heavy make-up. The drag show is coming. On Friday, Oct. 17, the student organization Queers & Allies (Q & A) will transform Evelyn Young Dining Room into a runway show fit for the daring, young students who will shake, flaunt and strut their gender-bending stuff to a panel of judges.
The show will be emceed by Nina DiAngelo, a drag queen from the Minneapolis club Gay 90s. Along with officiating the evening, Nina will be performing two acts of her own.
Judges this year are Professors of English Rob Kendrick and Sean Cobb and Professor of Communication Studies Martin Lang.
“It’s the most attended event the group puts on,” Junior Biology Major and Co-president of Q&A Mara Edison said of the event. “It’s also an event that gets our name out to a large group on campus.”
Edison said one of the goals of the drag show is to provide a place where the emotional climate is light and everyone feels comfortable to be who they are.
“It’s a fun way to experience Coming Out Week, [one in which] you won’t be as out of your comfort zone,” she said.
The drag show also serves as a place to show support for the queer community.
“It’s a place where an ally can be visibly supportive of the community. I hope we can bring people together and actively understand each other,” she said.
Kendrick said the drag show can also serve as a platform for dialogue.
“It’s necessary for those who have been viewed as outside the mainstream to be vocal and visible. It’s also a way to fight for a social place that is safe and nurturing,” he said.
Ulrika Dahl, visiting professor in the Scandinavian Studies Department provided a historical perspective on drag and shed some light on the impact it has on society.
“Drag is a central part of gay history. It’s a celebration of past and present gay subculture. It is also honoring a history of militant activism. Drag queens have been hugely important in political activism – at the center of political struggles.”
To illustrate her point, Dahl cited the Stonewall riots of 1969, frequently mentioned as one of the first instances in American history in which the queer community fought back against government-backed authorities who had repeatedly persecuted sexual minorities. Drag queens played a pivotal role in the resistance.
Dahl said that drag can also be seen as a critique of the social order and heteronormativity.
“I think drag is what calls into question the naturalness of gender, because if a man can perform womanhood better than women and it’s possible for anyone to manifest any gender, then we have to start asking ourselves: what is gender?”
Dahl has researched and written extensively on the subject of gender; her most recent work focused on the idea of “femininity as drag.”
“Drag isn’t just about men that dress in women’s clothing or women that dress
in men’s clothing, but in fact, femininity in itself as a form of drag.”
She referred to her theory as a system of “endless copying.”
“We think of drag queens as ‘copying womanhood,’ but there is no original womanhood; only endless copying.”
However, for Dahl, drag isn’t just about political activism and challenging norms; it’s also a lot of fun.
“It’s hugely fun and entertaining and full of laughter. It doesn’t take itself very seriously, which I think is partly why people are so excited about it.”
What Dahl made most clear was that drag and its impact is multifaceted; drag is not a static term, just like gender.
If you are feeling like making a statement, just curious or anywhere in-between you may consider checking out the drag show, whether in the crowd or on the runway. As Kendrick put it, “Whether we’re watching someone dress in drag or whether we are dressing in drag ourselves, [drag is a way] to play around with your own gender identity and to get out of gender binaries.”
Contact Mara Edison if you’re seeking a performance spot in the show.