By Madison Roper
Whatcom Community College’s Pride Club held a drag show in Syre Auditorium on May 24. Two drag queens, Betty Desire and Shanita Blough, both Whatcom alumni, hosted the event filled with multiple drag performers.
The show raised over $600, which was divided to be donated to Queer Youth Project, PFLAG, Lifelong, and Planned Parenthood.
The drag show was preceded by a Drag Trans Panel with panelists Betty Desire, Autumn Wilfong, Desmond Pounder, Will Cousineau, and facilitator Hannah Thomas.
“That was something important to us as a club and to everyone who was performing because there is a disconnect between the drag and trans community,” said Wilfong of the panel.
“Not necessarily just in the public space, but internally as well and we wanted to bring everyone together beforehand, so it was an important part to the show.”
“I think that’s why, years ago, the drag show stopped happening. It was because of that disconnect,” said Nick Bostrom, Pride club president, and who performed as Angelique Desire.
There were a total of 22 performers, a few of which are Whatcom students. There were half as many performers last year.
“Historically speaking, drag was one of the first, I guess, socially acceptable forms of being able to, not only play with gender, but to more outwardly express your gender identity,” said Nick “Valene Les Rochers” Dagestino.
“Personally, finding out about myself, and being trans, was actually facilitated through doing drag.”
According to Wilfong, and confirmed by other sources, “the drag show was one of, if not, the biggest student led, student organized events that’s on campus.”
It was estimated that about 200 people attended the event.
“We had a lot of our students, who maybe didn’t identify as queer, go in, have fun, and join us for a day of merriment. And leave feeling really excited, really energized,” said Wilfong.
“It gives us a place to express ourselves and perform in front of others. We kind of show off part of our community that a lot of us can’t even access.”
“I started sneaking into the bar when I was about 17, and when the queens found out that I was doing it not to drink or do anything but see drag shows, they took me under their wing,” said performer Lizzie Borden Knight Desire Skywalker Blough.
“I kind of started doing drag as, not just as an homage to them, but to show them how much I appreciate their art form and what they did to keep me alive in a difficult time.”
“For me, I’ve been a musician and performer basically all my life, so it’s like going into it in a different way,” said Cole “Cole Sprouts” Simpson.
“Like, what is drag? What can you do with it and those alternate personas that you can just give your all to and also just feeling the energy from the crowd.”
The club has hopes to keep the drag show an annual event, but expand the LGBTQ community in other ways on Whatcom campus.
“We’re working towards the improvement of, not just sheer number, but quality of gender neutral or all gender bathrooms at Whatcom,” said Dagestino.
“With the new building that’s being built, we’re exploring the concept of having a space for the LGBTQ community. Kind of like the inter-cultural center.”
“We don’t know if we’re going to get approval on it, but it’s a very very important need,” said Tara Hughes, pride club advisor.