Last Friday, three protesters disrupted a drag race that had been planned by the Department of Programming (DOP) and Rainbow Connection — an LGBTQ+ organization on campus, The Phoenix previously reported.
We posted this breaking story on our website and social media and, in the four days since that post went live on Instagram, there have been over 1,200 comments defending both the performance and the protesters.
While a majority of the comments were in support of the 7 p.m. event in Mullady Theater, the back-and-forth dialogue is indicative of a greater conversation that is being had in the United States.
Drag, as a practice, has become highly politicized in recent years. In February, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said he planned to ban drag and “adult cabaret entertainment” from “public property or locations where children might see the performance,” the Associated Press (AP) reported.
There is often a perception that drag performances are overly sexualized — a protester outside Loyola’s drag show even stated it objectifies women.
Drag is defined as “the art of dressing and acting exaggeratedly as another gender, usually for entertainment such as comedy, singing, dancing, lip-syncing or all of the above,” according to AP.
The legislation was eventually blocked by a federal judge in March, AP reported, but the message Lee sent to the drag community was clear.
Lee and others view drag as a threat to the minds and hearts of children and Americans throughout the country, but this simply isn’t the case. Drag is a form of self-expression and freedom — a tenant of America that is so often perverted.
In hosting this event for the Loyola community, the DOP and Rainbow Connection intended to provide a safe space in which students, faculty and staff could participate and attend.
In a study conducted by researchers at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, drag performers felt a sense of “status, self-affirmation,and empowerment as benefits that drag performers may obtain from participation.”
While those performing in drag may not be part of the LGBTQ+ community, there are inexplicable ties between the two worlds. Having spaces where they can feel welcomed and accepted are necessary.
Attending a fairly liberal institution, members of the Loyola community are — in a way — fortunate to have outlets like the drag show, but protests and demonstrations like this make it clear there is still progress to be made.
Featured image by Ella Govrik | The Phoenix