Drag queens work it at UB for National Coming Out Week
LGBTA club holds annual drag show
Acceptance and encouragement filled the Student Union Wednesday afternoon as students screamed in excitement while being dazzled by an array of dancers. Dressed head to toe in glammed out dresses and body suits, drag queens attracted a large crowd of curious and excited students.
The LGBTA Club partnered with the Intercultural and Diversity Center (IDC) to celebrate National Coming Out Day and put on their annual drag show in the SU foyer. The event featured dancers from Club Marcella, Buffalo’s only 18+ gay nightclub.
The club has held the event for over 15 years and continues to draw larger crowds with each new school year. Roughly 150 students filled the SU lobby and walkway connecting the Commons and the SU to watch the dancers. Many more students also caught a glimpse of the performance while they walked through the SU.
Alexander Brewer, a sophomore philosophy major and LGBTA president, explained the importance of holding their drag show in a populated area like the SU.
“Exposure is key. When it comes to changing, agitating or introducing a culture to an area that they may be closed off from, getting people talking is a good first step,” Brewer said. “When [students] talk, it pushes progress forward in terms of trans acceptance and puts the issue on the table.”
Brewer realizes there are students who are still facing challenges coming out or coming to terms with their sexual or gender identity.
His club presented the show during National Coming Out Week to show unity amongst the LGBTQ community on campus. The club is a safe place for people to express themselves freely and discuss any difficulties they may be encountering.
“Coming Out Day is super important because we're celebrating the struggle of anyone that falls under our spectrum of figuring out who they are,” Brewer said. “Sometimes, they don't understand who they are. You need to come out to yourself and after that, your parents, friends and society. We hope to give people who are still in the closet and people that already came out a reason to feel safe on campus.”
Brewer was thankful for the support his club received while planning the events this week.
“We’re grateful for the IDC reaching out to us and wanting to work with us,” Brewer said. “We're coexisting but we want to team up in the future to include a more accepting, inclusive campus for everyone.”
Jayme Coxx, a dancer from Club Marcella, preformed and emceed the event. Coxx, dressed in a cheetah print dress with black high heels, danced to a remix of Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover).”
This was Coxx’s 10th year hosting the show, a milestone for the advancement of LGBTQ acceptance at UB and across Western New York.
“No matter if you're gay or straight, it shows there are people living their life to the fullest and we’re not afraid of who we are,” Coxx said. “There's people here to tell you not to be afraid and to accept yourself; you’re not alone.”
There are events and drag shows similar to Wednesday’s event happening locally and across the country to celebrate National Coming Out Week. Coxx encourages students to seek out these opportunities to learn more about the LGBTQ community.
Coxx loves coming to UB every year because of the students that share their stories with her and other dancers. Every year they receive a warm welcome from students eager to watch their performance and learn more about drag culture.
“[Performing here] is amazing,” Coxx said. “Afterwards, students want pictures with the dancers and ask about Marcella. Students have reached out to us on social media, some say ‘drag queens helped save my life.’ Knowing that we can help people like that is an amazing feeling.”
Coxx said she is appreciative of UB for hosting them every year and thanks the university for being so supportive of the LGBTQ community.
Students attending the event had nothing but praise for the local LGBTQ community’s efforts to spread awareness of coming out.
Mahmoud Gabr, a junior communication major, has been to Club Marcella before and is happy to see them perform at UB every year.
“I enjoy their performances a lot. I've had my fair share of seeing drag shows. I like the music and the showmanship,” Gabr said. “I’m glad there was such a good turnout.”
Gabr hadn’t seen a drag show before he came to college but now enjoys attending them. These shows may be foreign to most students, but Gabr hopes that more will go out and support local drag queens after Wednesday’s event.
“I feel like students are not used to watching these shows. It's real exposure seeing a new culture,” Gabr said. “Being more aware of the LGBT community is the first step to being comfortable and understanding. It's great we have club like that in Buffalo. More cities need to venture out and include LGBT clubs.”
For other students, this was the first drag show they have attended. Seeing dancers in an environment familiar to them debunked some of the unfamiliarity around the shows and caught students’ attention.
Rachel Plunkett, a freshman accounting major, said she would be more inclined to go to a drag show after seeing how much fun they can be.
“It’s really cool to see something different like this on campus,” Plunkett said. “I’ve never seen one before. It was a really cool experience. I’m happy I walked through the SU and was able to catch part of it.”
Plunkett praised the IDC and LGBTA club for bringing drag to campus.
“I think it's a really good thing that [the LGBTA club] held this event,” Plunkett said. “I know people who are interested but it might be frowned upon where they’re from. It’s a really cool thing to watch.”
Max Kalnitz is the senior features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org