Wearing high heels, wigs, loads of make-up, long flowing sequined gowns, miniskirts, leather gear, vibrant colors or simply sexy black, a cast of 11 took to the Main Stage in Building 6 for the annual drag show.
The Gender Sexuality Alliance hosted the May 27 event to honor “Divas through the Ages.” A wildly enthusiastic crowd of about 250 applauded, cheered, clapped, laughed and tipped the performers.
Throughout the show, attendees came down to the stage to give the performers money. Some were rewarded with hugs, others with kisses, and the crowd loved it.
“He’s my son, and I’m so proud of him,” Marci Parker, Women’s Center assessment and testing specialist, said.
She was standing next to Du Bonnet Jackson, a.k.a. former Lane student Mario Parker-Milligan, who opened the show wearing a long blonde wig and black hat while singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
The drag show had several purposes, including bringing people together for fun. The organizers also wanted to raise awareness of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at Lane and in Eugene, Lane student Emmett Ellingson-Ford said.
Money raised from the show went to the Queer Community Center Project, which plans to create a center and services for LGBT people in Eugene.
“We have reclaimed the word ‘queer’ for positive purposes,” Ellingson-Ford said. “The center would be a place for LGBT (people) to get together and interact with other community members.”
The show also honored men and women from history who have made life more comfortable for gay men and women.
They aren’t talked about, but they impacted history, GSA advocate Max Jensen said.
“They include everyone from indigenous people to computer scientists who have made it possible for people to live the life they have today,” Lane student Christian Mello said. The show honored people such as British mathematician and wartime code-breaker Alan Turing.
According to Jensen, Turing played an important role in fighting the Nazis and so helped change the way the world works. However, due to his sexual orientation, he was convicted of gross indecency and chemically castrated by the British government. Turing later committed suicide.
The show also honored Bayard Rustin, who went to India to learn from Ghandi before he returned to the U.S. and advised Martin Luther King Jr. He was very instrumental in the march on Washington, Jensen said.
“These are people who changed the world,” Jensen said. “If they hadn’t been there things would be drastically different.”
Others included Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde, as well as Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay person elected to a U.S. government office, and the poet Sappho, who lived on the island of Lesbos between 630 B.C. and 570 B.C.
“There were riots in the ‘60s, and there was the work that was done during the AIDS crisis up until today,” Mello said. “It’s really important that young people have access to heroes that they can identify with.”
It wasn’t just young people who gathered for the show. Three generations of one family — including Darlene Booth; her daughter, Lara Landis; and her grandson, James Seals — smiled and clapped throughout the show.
“It’s great. I just love it,” Landis said. “Daphne and Karess are great together. They are so funny.”
Landis was referring to the hosts of the show, Karess Ann Laughter and Daphne Storm, whose good-natured humor, stunning outfits, dancing and singing held the show together and helped make it a hit.