Annual drag show honors individuality

Jessica Johnson

UW Oshkosh held its 15th annual Drag Show where students, faculty and members of the community gathered to support and celebrate those in the show on April 17 in Reeve Memorial Union Ballroom Joseph King, coordinator and performer in the drag show, said performers included professionals from all over the state, first time UWO students and faculty members. King said a drag show is a performance event that recognizes diverse individuals. “You have drag kings, which are females that dress as males,” King said. “You have drag queens which are males as females, and then you have your male entertainers who are male as male, and female entertainers who are female as female.” According to King, performers do not necessarily identify with their sexual orientation or their gender identity. “Performers do [not] necessarily identify as gay, bi or lesbian,” King said. “There are performers that are straight and do drag. There is not one specific gender or gender identity.” Natalie Moser, coordinator for the drag show, said the show matters to our campus by how it promotes freedom of expression. “It shows how accepting our campus can be and how all these different identities, people and diversities can come together for a night and enjoy the same entertainment and learn from what other people are doing in the community,” Moser said. Moser also said the show sends a positive message to the campus and Oshkosh community. “It is a celebration of who you are, individuality, and coming together as a community,” Moser said. “We are paired with Titan Night and other organizations that came together to make this possible, so that spreads a good message that we’re all kind of interconnected in a lot of ways on campus.” According to King, benefits of performing are bringing people joy and answering questions people may have about drag shows.. “The show opens a door of understanding and open-mindedness to trying new things, and also answering questions people have, and helping them learn more about what we do,” King said. Director of LGBTQ Resource Center Liz Cannon said she had a lot of fun performing in the drag show. “I have never been in a drag show before, and while I was afraid I would forget some of the moves, I must admit I enjoyed performing,” Cannon said. Cannon also said while she was attempting to perform masculinity she found herself reminiscing about her childhood. “What a drag show, and particularly Friday night’s entertainers who performed traditional drag teaches us that while gender is an integral part of us, gender expression involves ‘choices,’ some of which we consciously choose and some of which we unconsciously repeat after enculturation,” Cannon said. Gwen Dahlin, a UWO student who performed under the stage name Sasori, said she had an incredible time performing for the first time. “It was amazing,” Dahlin said. “Very exciting, my heart was racing the entire time.” Skylla Thompson, member of the Certified Sexy Burlesque group from Milwaukee, said it was her first time performing and was looking forward to the experience. “I just want to see how it feels and get the experience,” Thompson said. “I did this to come out of my comfort zone, and this is way out of my comfort zone, so I’m just going to see how I do and have fun.” Katie Salzmann, a UWO sophomore, said she thinks the drag show will strengthen the community. “I really think this show helps the campus and community become a stronger-knit community, and it helps support everyone who is performing, and to learn more about different ideas and different identities,” Salzmann said. After the show, Salzmann said she had a wonderful time watching everyone perform and it was a really fun experience. “It was cool seeing the performers embracing who they are, and seeing the audience members cheering and showing their support,” Salzmann said.