By Joanne Sally Mero
The majority of the performing drag queens at Lewis & Clark made their debut appearance on campus on Feb. 23 at the drag show held in the Platteau. The room was at maximum standing capacity and many students were not able to get into the Platteau because it was so full. During the show, students were even climbing on the door and windows outside the building to get a better view.
“I think that the turnout really shows that we have a strong queer support and ally on this campus and just expression of sexuality and gender and I think that’s really a blessing,” Lucky Whitburn-Thomas ’21, who goes by the stage name Frenchie Lavore, said. “This is actually my first time doing drag. It’s so scary but so expressive. I felt like a different person.”
Not only were the drag queens confident, sassy and fierce, they also knew how to work the audience. Interacting with audience members and having them engage with the drag show itself created a fun and accepting space. The audience’s cheers grew even louder as the show went on.
“The audience was just so great,” Max Usman ’21 said. Usman, who used the stage name Wicked Bitch of the West, said that audience participation and interaction is important in drag shows.
“Everyone was so positive,” Usman said. “Everyone was just out here having a good time and that meant that all the performers fed off that positive energy.”
One of the main goals of holding the drag show was to fundraise for the Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC). The goals of SMYRC are to support sexual and gender minority youth by providing counseling, community events, education, and other services and positive activities. Performers at the drag show donated their tips to SMYRC along with money raised from selling refreshments at the event.
“Part of the objectives of this was to have space for performers, fundraise for SMYRC, but also create more queer spaces,” Whitburn-Thomas said. “We need to show that and amplify that and amplify issues that are really important. That’s what this is all about. Talking about consent, about safe sex, about issues in society right now and celebrating the differences and beauties of genders and sexualities.”
For students who are interested in joining the drag community, the group encourages anyone to contact any of the performers. The drag community is welcoming and accepting of every person at any skill level.
“We are accepting anyone,” Whitburn-Thomas said. “Anyone who wants to do contortion, burlesque, not even drag. Just some performance. It can be any type of dance, any type of choreography. We’re accepting everyone and any talents.”
The next drag show is scheduled for March 16. Due to the incredibly successful turnout of this past show, the drag queens hope to host the next production in a larger and more accomodating space.
“This show is really special because there aren’t many opportunities for age-inclusive drag performers in Portland,” Laurence Seabrook ’20 said via Instagram direct message. Seabrook, who goes by the stage name Anne Thrax explained that it is difficult for anyone under the age of 21 to perform in drag shows in Portland.
“By putting on this show, we are providing a space for both performers and for members of our community that are under 21 years old and don’t have a queer-oriented place to be their true selves,” Seabrook said.