The University College Literary and Athletic Society’s Equity & Outreach Commission held the third annual Winterfest drag show on January 11 in University College’s Junior Common Room. The event was pay-what-you-can for entry.
Mira Al Hussein, the former Equity & Outreach Commissioner, hosted the show.
Drag king Devin Queen, dressed in a boy band-chic ensemble very much reminiscent of NSYNC, opened the show with a surprisingly sensual and emotionally charged dance to a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Style.”
Delia Nyx, another performer, said of the freedom of drag, “You get to explore another side to yourself. A different personality, you get to be dramatic.”
Amber St. Claire, who emphasized her older age and experience, appeared on stage three times during the evening, which was more frequent than any other performer. St. Claire’s performances were clearly inspired by stars from the golden age of Hollywood.
Interludes between performances allowed the crowd to join in with an ongoing lip sync battle. Members of the crowd were selected to come on stage to improvise lip syncing, and to dance to chosen songs. Those selected wowed the stage with their intensity at providing some truly grand performances.
Although drag in many ways has been embraced by the mainstream, it is important to recognize the origins and significance of these performances to the LGBTQ+ community.
Performer Ella Une Bite came from a small, conservative town growing up, which was not welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. Her move to the city provided her with the opportunity to try out something she had always been curious about.
“Within the community, it’s specifically women of colour, and I don’t want to use the term, but also gender-bending — with drag women and trans performers especially of colour,” said Une Bite on the history of drag. “They’re the ones that really got the queer rights movement going.”
“I want to recognize that as much as possible… a lot of the times, like with white queens, they don’t know the history of it being founded with people of colour,” added Une Bite.
While providing much entertainment, the show also provided needed insights into tensions surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. The honesty provided through drag as a form of self-expression is undeniable, and something vital to a community that has often been repressed.