Student Allies hosted its first-ever Drag Party on Friday, May 13 in Old Chapel. The event came to fruition thanks to the efforts of the Student Allies E-Board, Kylie Gorski ‘16, Will Schwartz ‘16 and Jessica Gilbert ‘18, along with contributions from Mitchell Clifford ‘18, Carolyn Doty ‘18 and William Garner ‘18.
The event was light-hearted, tasteful and all-inclusive. Some folks dressed in drag while others enjoyed testing out the makeup, tattoos and adhesive mustaches. Schwartz emceed throughout the night, balancing leading fun icebreakers while also addressing common issues encountered by the trans community on a daily basis.
The latter may sound like a heavy subject for a party, but Schwartz’s charisma tied the topic beautifully into the festivities because at its core, the event’s purpose was to raise awareness for the normalized discrimination against the transgender community.
The bathroom signs were aptly censored in response to the rising concern of transgender people using public bathrooms. In fact, the censorship was so subtle that it seemed very few people noticed it at all — those who did notice didn’t voice any concern, which goes to show that bathroom discrimination against people who identify as transgender is not only wrong, but also illogical.
To take things a step further, one might question if Union is truly a safe space for everyone. Granted, Student Allies is an extremely qualified safe space, but what about the whole campus? Not all too surprisingly, many Student Allies feel that there could be some improvement. Although there are a good number of people who accept others for what they do rather than their gender, there is still an evident stigma against the transgender and the nonbinary communities.
One could say these tensions can be found anywhere on campus, but it is equally true that people are becoming more accepting and seeing past gender polarization. “When I started at Union, there were only very small pockets of safe space for trans folk on campus, and I’ve seen them grow and become more visible since I’ve been here,” asserted Schwartz. “The creation of the Committee on LGBTQ+ affairs is a great step forward, and one that I think will be instrumental in positive changes in the future”.
Since its conception, the LGBTQ+ community has grown in members and Student Allies. If the Student Allies continue hosting these types of events, Union will go from having established safe spaces to being an all-inclusive safe space.
The shared interactions during the event made attendees feel more comfortable testing out drag and discussing transgender issues. By the end of the night, everyone felt included, no matter how binary or non-binary they consider themselves. The event was a good push toward a more inclusive Union and a considerable victory for Student Allies.
At the end of the day, the event was an effort made to ensure that gender identity does not have to be as polarizing a topic as it currently is. “I personally hope and believe that as time goes on, people will become more educated on these matters and come to accept and appreciate individuals not for their similarities, but for their differences; Isn’t that Union’s foundation?, remarked Turner. After all, the event served to remind us of Union’s motto that “Under the laws of Minerva, we all become brothers and sisters”.