Leaving home and family for college can be a challenging transition for some students, while others see it as exposure to different people, values and life experiences.
The Spring Drag Show drew a large crowd Friday, filling the Student Center ballrooms with diversity. The show was held by the Saluki Rainbow Network and the Special Programs and Center Events, and Yemisi Pleasant, a senior from Chicago studying early childhood development, directed the show.
She said to fund it, the Saluki Rainbow Network received help from SPACE, and members of SRN also organized fundraisers such as selling hot cocoa and candy.
Funding must cover the costs of the venue and seating rental, the stage décor and the payment of performers such as Blanche DuBois and Kara Belle, two local drag queens, she said.
Drag shows can be more than just an organization-funded social gathering, though.
“I think the drag shows really give students of all types permission to be more of who they are rather than trying to fit into any stereotypes,” said Rosemary Simmons, SRN advisor. “It’s important for students to be themselves yet still feel really connected.”
DuBois, who has been performing for 34 years, said it’s important for students to express themselves through whatever mediums they find suitable.
SIU houses many student groups and organizations that allow for students to meet others with similar interests.
The group is a place for LGBT students and allies to come together and increase their network, Simmons said. If a student is feeling isolated, SRN can truly help lessen that, she said.
Darcy Dunphy, a junior from Rockford studying human nutrition and dietetics and president of SRN, said the Registered Student Organization stresses the acceptance of everybody.
“We don’t care what color, race, gender or orientation; we accept everybody,” Dunphy said. “It’s a place to come for a safe haven.”
Dunphy, who also performed in the show, said the support students on campus show is amazing.
“For the drag show, people can come out, whether they’re straight or gay, and show support for our community,” Pleasant said. “They help the gay community know that it’s OK to be who you are — we’re still here to support you, and we’re here to show you love.”
The most important thing a student can take away from events like this is to realize such a diverse group of students can come together and have a good time, Simmons said.