“We are here, and we are queer, and we are proud,” became the catchphrase of the Second Annual Drag Show hosted by the Residence Halls Association and the Texas Tech University Gay-Straight Alliance.
Although West Texas typically is not synonymous with drag culture, an abundance of amateur and professional drag queens were present at the event.
All the proceeds raised at the event benefitted the Lubbock chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to create scholarships for lesbian and gay students.
“A lot of the gay kids that get kicked out by their parents have to pay for college themselves,” said Emily Barrera, a sophomore math major from San Antonio.
Barrera, an openly lesbian woman, said the process of coming out in West Texas is not as awful as it is made out to be.
“I thought it was going to be a lot worse,” she said. “Campus is really not bad at all. I think society is really progressing, too. It really showed tonight with all the straight people here, especially in West Texas.”
The safe, judgment-free environment created by the RHA and GSA is something GSA president Stuart Williams, a junior history major from Lubbock, is particularly proud of.
“I feel like it’s necessary,” said Williams, also known by his drag name “Mis Starla.” “Especially since Lubbock is not the most accepting of places. I grew up here; I know. I think for the most part, the Gay-Straight Alliance here is positively received.”
Williams, an openly gay student, said he is proudest of the work the GSA does with the drag show.
“We do a lot of good things, but I think this is the most important thing that we do,” he said. “People see (the drag show) as a necessary and awesome thing.”
Though the majority of people represented in the show either fell on one side or the other of the gay-straight dividing line, some students, like Erica Lang, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major from Arlington, were a little more indistinct
“I’m pansexual. Pretty much, we’re gender-blind. We don’t really care about the gender, we just love them for who they are on the inside,” she said. “A lot of people mistake us for bisexuals, like we’re guys and girls, but we pretty much don’t care if you’re hermaphrodite, transgender, male, female — we will love you for who you are, not your gender. “
Because Lang’s sexuality is not exactly mainstream, she said the coming out process was particularly hard on her parents.
“My mom originally wanted to kick me out, but my dad was like, ‘No. If you really love your daughter, you won’t care what her sexuality is,’” she said. “It hurt, it really did. But honestly, it’s who I am. I mean, if they hate me, then they hate me. If they love me, then that’s awesome.”
Even if Lubbock is considered to be one of the most conservative cities in the U.S., according to a study released by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research, students who attended the drag show say the event is helping to broaden the tunnel vision of some Lubbockites. After all, the students on campus who openly practice alternative lifestyles are, as Mis Starla said, here, queer and proud.