Dance for equality

Last Saturday, Oct. 11, the SUB was filled with music, colors, drinks, laughter and people. The Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA), a student-run club on campus, hosted its annual fundraiser: The Coming OUT Drag Show and Dance. Entertainers from across the state were invited to perform, and the house was packed.

Drag is a unique form of art where performers sing and dance while dressed as the other gender, challenging traditional boundaries of gender and sexuality. Natascha Quimby, a former student and community member who coordinated the event with QSA, stressed the difficulty of adequately describing the event: “My description cannot do it justice.”

As a celebration of National Coming Out Day, the show was intended to provide the student body and the community a venue where people of all sexualities could come together and have a good time. People from all around came to Bozeman to enjoy the entertainment and ambiance of the event. David Mariani, an art student from the University of Great Falls, views drag shows not only as a cultural experience but as a form of fine art. “The entertainment value is definitely there, but it is a serious art form. The performers spend hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars crafting their routine and costumes.”

Performer Anita Bamalama Tang Tang, who graduated MSU in 1992, thinks the event brings people together. Since founding Magic City Glamor in Billings, Anita has been performing annually in Bozeman for over eight years. “Originally, the idea of a man dressing up as a woman disgusted me. Once I did it though, I found satisfaction . . . the audience enjoyed what I was doing; I entertained everybody.” Many performers have shows as often as every week or month.

The drag show has been an event for nearly 10 years at MSU. It started out as a small set of performances but quickly gained mainstream appreciation and popularity. Quimby said that, “this event really became a focal point, and added to the QSA in a positive and cool way, which is why I still am involved.”

Lonnie Miller, an undergraduate at MSU, volunteered with QSA to celebrate diversity. “We just want [students and community members] to be more comfortable with themselves in public.”

“I just want to thank everyone who helped,” Quimby said at the show, including “the fabulous performers, and everyone involved in QSA that made this possible.” This April, another drag show, The Revolution Charity Drag Show, will be open for all to experience this one-of-a-kind entertainment, with the proceeds going to a local or national charity organization.

In addition to the music and dance, the AIDS Outreach center in Bozeman had a table at the door and was handing out condoms and information regarding sexual health. Bradly Patricks, the treasurer of the organization, says their mission is to provide support for those living with AIDS. “We provide free HIV testing, completely confidential, in Bozeman every Wednesday. In addition, people can call us to set up other times for testing.”

Colette Gray, the Vice President of AIDS Outreach, added that the focus is educating Bozeman and the greater Gallatin area to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. “We are all volunteers, and every penny goes to this cause,” Gray said. For more information or to volunteer, visit aidsoutreachmt.org.