by Brook Gardner-Durbin
On Saturday night, April 12, the SUB Ballrooms hosted hundreds as drag kings and queens danced, strutted and gyrated for charity. The annual Revolution Charity Drag Show had fans lined up at the doors more than an hour before the event started, and many drove for hours to be there. Inside were booths for local charities AIDS Outreach and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and a stage set against a rainbow backdrop.
More than two dozen drag kings and queens took the stage over the course of nearly three hours, lip synching and dancing to a playlist ranging from today’s pop hits to Broadway favorites. Many were first time performers, but others were well known returners. Natascha Quimby, the show’s producer, split time between every act equally, regardless of their experience. Some acts stayed on the stage for the entirety of their act, but many entered the audience, and several brought members of the audience up on the stage to dance with them.
The drag show provides “a chance to show the LGBT community in a positive manner,” said Alex Paterson, the president of MSU’s Queer-Straight Alliance, which hosts the event. Drag king Jack Rackham agreed: “It’s to raise awareness that we’re here and we’re normal people.”
“The people that are really against [the LGBT community] … we’re never going to reach anyway,” Rackham said. “It’s the people in the middle we can reach. A lot of people bring their friends, and they’re really nervous, and … ’see, they don’t bite!’” Mikah Harder pointed out the show and its message of equality were applicable to everyone, regardless of their gender or orientation. “It shows all gender roles, really, are made up,” he said. The performers are attempting, in part, to highlight the similarities everyone shares by pointing out how easy it is for one gender to appear as the other. “I change my clothes and suddenly I look like any dude,” one performer said.
Many in the audience got into the spirit by dressing in drag, but the majority were not. QSA meetings average about 70 percent members of the community and 30 percent “allies” (friends, family and supporters), but Paterson estimated the crowd for the drag show was as much as 70 percent supporters of equality and relatively few immediate members of the LGBT community. “We don’t like to think of it that way though,” he said, adding, “We like to see it as 100 percent humans.”
Highlights of the night included a drag king duet performance of Big and Rich’s “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy,” which pulled half the audience into the aisles to dance, a conga line through the seats, a drag queen dressed as Cruella Deville tossing stuffed animals to the audience and a robotic finale, perfectly timed to the music.
The event raised over $3,000 for PFLAG. The local charity provides education and support to anyone, and holds monthly meetings on the third Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at 9 West Olive. Other charities supported in the past have included Eagle Mount and the Gallatin Valley Food Bank.
MSU’s QSA meets Mondays at 7 p.m. in Sub 233. For more information about October’s drag show or to be a participant, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.