Drag queens fundraise for undocumented, gay students

Jerssay Arredondo and Dago Bailon will perform for "Drag for a Dream" on Friday, Aug. 24. Bailon will perform as Melissa Bangzenblo Friday at Club Zarape. (Photo by Ana Ramirez)

Drag queens will take the stage Friday to share their stories and raise money for the undocumented and LGBTQ communities at Club Zarape in Phoenix.

“Drag for a Dream” is hosted by the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, a national organization committed to the passage of the DREAM Act that focuses on people that are both LGBTQ members and undocumented.

The main goal of the event is to raise money for a scholarship fund that will benefit one student. Dago Bailon, who plans to transfer to ASU next year, is the organizer.

“We’re trying to target a space in the community that hasn’t been targeted before,” Bailon said. “It’s not an undocumented or a queer issue. We’re all fighting for equality.”

Bailon is one of eight performing on Friday. His name will be Melissa Bangzenblo. Only two are veteran performers.

“We want to educate and inform,” Bailon said. “It’s hard to come out as both undocumented and queer, so we will be sharing our stories on stage.”

Jerssay Arredondo went to ASU for a semester in 2009. He was a dance major and a handful of entities granted him scholarships. As an undocumented student, he could not take any of the funds.

Instead, Arredondo pays for one credit at a time at Scottsdale Community College and he is the choreographer and stage manager for “Drag for a Dream.”

“I always wanted to help the queer and undocumented community,” he said.

Arredondo joined QUIP a month ago and said he had a sense of fitting in for the first time.

“Growing up, I didn’t know what undocumented or gay was,” Arredondo said. “Once I came out as gay, being undocumented became the next issue.”

Arredondo, who graduated high school with honors, would like to go back to ASU but can't unless he gets a private scholarship.

“I used to say I got the short end of the stick in both ways. But now I feel proud,” Arredondo said.

Eder Rosas, one of the performers, is undocumented and an ally of the LGBTQ community. Rosas said he did not fully understand what it meant to be undocumented until he was a teenager.

“I suddenly couldn’t drive or travel abroad or do any of the things my friends were doing,” Rosas said. “All these doors just started to close.”

Rosas graduated from Chandler High School in 2005 and was planning to start college a year later.

“That year, Proposition 300 passed,” Rosas said. “I wasn’t able to pay for college, but not going was a very difficult decision.”

Proposition 300 prevents university students from receiving financial aid if they cannot prove they are residing legally in the country.

“Sometimes, I would sneak into ASU lectures, but I kept it at a distance,” Rosas said. “I didn’t want to fall in love with the idea of college.”

Rosas said he believes in the work QUIP does.

“On the state level, both LGBTQ and undocumented communities are discriminated,” Rosas said. “We are fighting, not for undocumented rights or queer rights only, but for human rights.”


Reach the reporter at dpbaltaz@asu.edu

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