All Hail the Queens: Diversity Through Drag On Display at Clark

By Selah Zichterman in Campus

The hard clack of heels hit the stage floor and faded into the uproar of laughter bellowing from the audience.

The laughter stemmed from the awkward sight of Clark students racing back and forth in six-inch-heels. For many of the participants, this was the first time ever wearing these uncomfortably tall shoes.

The audience watched in amusement as one male participant stumbled and nearly fell to the ground after trying to reach the finish line.

“It was hard to wear the shoes, but it was almost just as hard to put them on,” participant Nicholas Ruhsenberger said.

The “High Heel Race” was one of the many activities at the Clark College Drag Show on Nov. 20. The purpose of this event was to educate students about the difference between sex and gender in a family-friendly environment.

All of the money fundraised through tips, a total of $568, went to an organization called Triple Point, a youth center for the LGBT community in Vancouver. Last year, the Drag Show raised $600 with 150-200 audience members attending.

Veronica/Oscar Beltran-Leyva is the president of the Queer Penguins & Allies club that serves as a support group for the LGBT community on campus. Beltran-Leyva coordinated the event and also participated in the show along with 10 other members of the club and five community members.

Triple Point youth center also set up a table to inform students about its services and to provide information about the LGBT community.

Events included lip-syncing performances, a high heel competition, catwalk, and a shoe race. Prizes were given away to audience members who participated in some events.

“The Drag Show was a complete success, we were very happy with the participation of the audience,” Beltran-Leyva said. “Many audience members have said they want to perform for the next Drag Show in the spring and bring their family.”

Clark student Nicole Bolden is also part of the QP&A club and performed two songs using the stage name “Hermaphrodite.” According to Bolden, she has been doing drag for two years and is now participating in the Online Drag Competition.

“This event was just a way for the queer community to have a voice,” Bolden said.

The Clark College Diversity Center is one of the lead supports behind the Drag Show and is located in GHL 214. Sirius Bonner is the Special Advisor to the President for Diversity and Equity and says the Diversity Center has supported the QP&A club by assisting them in preparation for the show.

According to Bonner, the Diversity Center is a safe “home base” for students to talk about issues they are facing at home or at the college.

“Students who understand it is a safe place, know that discrimination is not tolerated in the Diversity Center,” Bonner said.

According to Beltran-Leyva, the show received a lot of positive feedback especially from Clark’s public speaking professor, Elizabeth Kinnaman who attended the show.

“It was a nice way to get students involved in a show they might not otherwise be exposed to,” Kinnaman said. “It’s a great opportunity for students to support their peers and build a community at the college.”

Beltran-Levya agrees.

“We use it as a way to educate, gender isn’t just one thing,” Beltran-Leyva said. “The show is an example of how things are not just masculine and feminine.”

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