BREAKING: Protesters Gather Outside of Drag Show Hosted in Loyola’s Mullady Theater

A group of three protesters gathered outside of Loyola’s Mertz Residence Hall on the evening of April 14 to protest a drag race.

A group of three protesters gathered outside of Loyola’s Mertz Residence Hall on the evening of April 14 to protest a drag race

The show was hosted by the Department of Programming and the Rainbow Connection. The protest began at approximately 6:40 p.m. and lasted until the show ended at 9 p.m.

The drag show, which began at 7 p.m., included performances from both professional and student drag performers. As the event took place inside of Mullady Theater, the protesters stood on the steps of Mertz holding signs condemning the event. The signs read “Catholic Schools Follow Catholic Rules!” and “Drag Shows Drag Down Female Dignity.”

Emily Torres, one of the original protesters, said that as a woman, she knows Loyola’s “history with assault and sexualization.” Torres said she believes drag objectifies women to great extents. 

“The drag queens at these shows have dresses in a very sexual nature,” Torres said. “It tells people that to be a woman and to dress like a woman is to dress in a sexual manner that objectifies women.” 

Matthew McKenna, another original protester, said drag goes against his Christian beliefs.

“Last year we also collected signatures from professors and Jesuits to stop the show,” McKenna said. “Specifically because a few years ago, the show has a performer dressed as a nun, stripping to Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin.’”

Additional protesters joined in opposition to the event and at approximately 6:50 p.m. a group of students in support of the drag show began a counter-protest. The crowd gathered to approximately 60 people. Protesters screamed, chanted and blared music from speakers to drown out other voices. 

Rainbow Connection is an organization dedicated to creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ students on Loyola’s campus, according to their Instagram.

Ryan Bradley, president of Rainbow Connection, said the organization was in contact with university administrators who indicated to Rainbow Connection the protesters would be there prior to the event. 

“It is a couple people with homophobic beliefs who are trying to disenfranchise the art of drag,” Bradley said. 

While walking to the beach, Loyola student Mustafa Unat said he saw the crowd and joined the group rallying against the protest. 

“I’m coming down from my room, only to be greeted by homophobia on my doorstep,” Unat said. “As a gay man at Loyola, I thought I would be accepted.” 

Cheering and applause poured out of Mullady Theater as the show wrapped up. Student P.J. McMahon said the protest made the show a momentous event to attend. 

“There is something so special about [drag] that people feel the need to fight it,” McMahon said.

Both the original protesters and counter-protesters left shortly after the drag show ended.

Featured image by Ella Govrik | The Phoenix

Xavier Barrios

Xavier Barrios