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The Vista Drag Event Coverage

Source: http://www.theusdvista.com/news/usd-hosts-first-ever-drag-show-1.2846178

USD hosts first ever Drag Show

By Matt Hose

Nazin Sedehi

Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012

Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 02:04

USD hosted its first ever Drag Show tonight inside the UC Forums, where it was met with both staunch support and opposition from supporters and protesters of the event. Those in support felt it was a landmark event in USD’s mission of diversity. Those opposed felt it was a violation of fundamental Catholic values.

The show was organized by PRIDE, a student organization that advocates for the rights of the LGBT and transgender community.

Before the event - which included lip-synching and cross-dressing - began earlier tonight, various news stations, protesters, students and administrators took their places outside of the forums where the event was being held. The active members of this audience split into two groups - one, the protesters, consisting of people kneeling and praying,  and the other, the supporters, wearing tie-dye and holding signs in support of the drag show. Signs being held by the students were written with statements like “love conquers hate” and “all expression is humanly equal.”

Other students waiting outside shared their expectations for the event. Senior Devon Morris said that he had lowered his expectations for this particular show, since he had seen other drag shows in the past.

Freshman Reid Thompson’s perspective, however, was that this event was a defining moment for USD.

“I think this represents a large step for our university and our university’s identity...I hope the two sides can come to a compromise because I think it is important for USD to address the issue,” Thompson said.

Lori Watson, professor of philosophy and director of the gender studies program, began the show with a lecture that included the historical roots of the word “drag.”

“It’s important to note that men dressing as women for entertainment and performance goes back to the Ancient Greeks,” Watson said. “In the theater and performance of Greek plays, men acted in female roles--so too did men perform the female roles, dressed as women, in Shakespeare’s time.”

Seven cross-dressers were the main participants of the event. Their performances included an introduction, dancing and lip-synching to songs and answering questions. The participants included faculty members and USD students.

Sophomore Niko Pascua won the event with high scores in all three categories of competition.

During the show, topics including gender-neutral bathrooms and gender-neutral housing were discussed as options to further the acceptance of transgender students.

Tootie Nefertootie, a local cross-dresser, was the master of ceremonies for the event. Her repeated quote, “It was fabulous, darling,” echoed the sentiments of the students in attendance.

Senior Mackenzie Gilchrist, one of the supporters outside the event, said that the drag show makes her proud to be a part of the USD community.

“I’m proud of the fact that the university is willing to support this kind of event,” she said. “I know there’s going to be backlash but it’s important for humanity to support this. I’m proud to be a USD student and we’re here to support family and friends. Drag on USD.”

Some students had personal reasons for backing the occasion, including freshman Morgan Gallow, who has gay friends and family members.

“I gave my ticket away to a gay person, my friend, who had just come out of the closet,” Gallow said. “I’m here because my grandmother, at the age of 75, just came out and got married. My godmother committed suicide because she was gay. It’s just ridiculous that people can’t be who they are. I hope it’s going to be an annual show from now on. I hope it increases awareness. I think that people are scared of what they don’t know or understand but I don’t think that you should be mean just because you oppose them.”

Other USD students used their Catholic values as reason for disapproval of the event.

“I respect the event but I don’t really approve of it,” an anonymous USD student said. “They’re trying to express and get a point across but I think that it conflicts with the Catholic values that I have. I believe that part of it is my upbringing. I respect other peoples’ way of living but I don’t think, as a Catholic university, that this is the best way of getting across the values of diversity and inclusiveness. Catholic Social Thought is like a skeleton or set of guidelines, but you personalize it to yourself and your values. It’s not that I hate [the drag show], it just wouldn’t be something I would participate in.”

One Catholic student had a different interpretation of his her Catholic faith, and felt that the event was fair because it followed in line with the Catholic values of acceptance and love.

“The way I grew up, going to church, I learned that God loves all people,” junior Janette Rodriguez said. “The biggest commandment for me was to love one another. For me, having people say that they don’t support this cause because of religion, they’re just excluding people. They’re saying that God doesn’t love certain people because they’re a certain way but these people shouldn’t be calling themselves Catholics. I read the comments online from the people who were against the event. How can they call themselves Catholics when they’re saying that God doesn’t like certain people?”

According to NBC News San Diego, a message board on the website California Catholic Daily featured several comments opposing the event, one of which went so far as to say, “USD stands for Undeniable Satanic Destruction.”

Father Jacob Bertrand of St. Rose of Lima, a Catholic parish in Chula Vista, participated in the prayer group before the show. He believed that the people, by being involved in the event, were expressing broken identities.

“Every person that I have dealt with who is experiencing same-sex attraction has had childhood problems,” Bertrand said. “I am here because Jesus has a message of healing. I think there is a better way to healing than expressing something that is broken...Any way a culture breaks apart the bonds between a man and a woman breaks the threads of the human heart.”

However, amid all of the controversy, some students simply enjoyed the show for the entertainment it provided.

“The show was awesome,” sophomore Delia Robles said. “The whole crowd was happy the whole time.”