The Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA) will be presenting its annual Drag Show event on Nov. 14 in conjunction with the Student Affairs Committee’s Late Nite. The show will go from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Student Life Building gymnasium and feature a variety of performers hired by the QSA.
The drag show has become an annual performance at UIS for good reason; the lighthearted and good-natured atmosphere generally makes for a positive experience for attendees. QSA Treasurer Andrew Windmiller stated, “I would say it’s a good, fun example of not rigid adherence to gender norms and such, which I think is a good thing to have.” Emma Gillespie, the QSA Chair of Records, agreed with Windmiller, saying, “It’s a lot of fun. It’s just enjoyable to be there, it’s kind of crazy and fun.”
Andrew Windmiller also described the event itself. “What a drag show is, is just people going up on stage dressed in typically more flamboyant examples of clothes of the opposite sex…a lot of times they will lip sync, some of them actually do sing, and they will also dance,” he explained.
The entertainment is something that the members of QSA wish they could spread to more students, despite the fact that attending a drag show is something that not every student will be interested in.
Windmiller speculated, “I think a lot of people close themselves off from new experiences…but it’s a lot of fun, it has a lot of energy, and there are certain levels of involvement for the audience in some cases.”
Jerrica Griffin, a publicist for the QSA, echoed Windmiller’s sentiment: “It’s fun, free and definitely high energy. I can’t really see anyone having a negative experience at the drag show. If you’re willing to come to the drag show, if you’re not being a little bit closed minded, once you’ve gotten there, you’re going to have fun.”
A statement from the QSA on the UIS website reads “We believe in the cultivation and development of awareness and acceptance of individual differences to enrich our campus environment.”
Andrew Windmiller believes that the drag show does just that, saying, “I know for a few people who have come out to me as trans, they have stated that our drag show has been one of those things where it’s kind of an eye-opening experience for them.
They realize that people come to the drag show, they have a good time, and nobody heckles or throws anything.”
Griffin pointed out that the UIS community is much more open minded than she expected it to be.
She credits various resources such as the LGBTQ Resource Office, QSA and the Diversity Center, as well as events like the drag show, with making her feel comfortable on campus.
Windmiller said of the UIS campus, “I think it has a lot of growing to do, but I think it’s growing fast. And I think that is a good thing. I think it’s one of those things where a lot of people who may be more used to a smaller world, UIS does a pretty solid job of introducing those people to what lies beyond their comfort zone.”