It is easy to feel imprisoned within the lines of society’s endless list of oppressive rules. For generations, LGBTQ activists have fought an ongoing battle against the intolerance and violence targeted towards the queer community. However, progress moves like rivers and streams — slow and steady, powerful and determined. With each and every step towards justice, the LGBTQ presence on college campuses grows in strength, confidence, and unity. Bigotry is certainly not over, but recently, I witnessed the power of drag: a technicolor spark in our gray society. Once again I was reminded of the kaleidoscopic colors on the pride flag — the spectrum of experiences.
“Give Face: A Very, Very Innocent Affair”, hosted by the students living in 576 Alvarado, gave a fearless voice for Stanford’s drag community by defying gender constructs and bringing true vitality to our campus. The queens, including Princess the Apocalypse ‘18, Mother Moop ‘18, and Prince Johnny Who’s Not Anyone At All ‘18, sparked the audience with their unapologetically daring performances, vibrant costumes and glowing spirits. “Give Face” transported the audience away from the picture-perfect facade of Stanford University, acting as an underground form of rebellion against the normality of our mundane, day-to-day lives.
However, unlike most drag performances I’ve seen in West Hollywood and San Francisco, “Give Face” brought a raw, remarkable element to the LGBTQ experience. The gender inclusive queens of Stanford are ordinary students, facing college obstacles while finding their place in the world. Amidst the energy and excitement, many of the performances illustrated the complex, melancholy and hopeful world of LGBTQ students and young adults. During these serious portrayals of the transgender experience, an inexplicable aura of compassion and empathy filled the room.
During Princess the Apocalypse’s lip-sync performance to “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera, the audience sang in unity, gifting the queen with unconditional love. We waved our cellphone lights in the air, put our arms around one another and sang in support of the queen’s bravery and true identity. Our love and compassion created a protective realm, a safe haven, for the queens and the LGBTQ audience members. The human energy was truly powerful; it reminded us that, despite the darkness and corruption of our world, the heart of humanity heals the weary souls and spirits.
Drag on college campuses is more than colorful costumes and glamorous makeup. It brings life and beauty to the LGBTQ student experience, providing a safe haven for those who are rejected by their hometowns. The queens of Stanford defied the cookie-cutter template of a “perfect” Stanford student. They symbolize the importance of embracing your true identity — whether it’s coming out to your friends or performing the beautiful art of drag. Most of all, drag shows allow queer students to feel unapologetically bold, courageous and beautiful.
Contact Lora Supandi at lora24 “at” stanford.edu.