On Tuesday, several student organizations worked together to put on one of the Downtown Phoenix campus' largest drag shows as part of ASU's Pride Week events.
The week, which runs Sunday, April 9, through Saturday, April 15, is meant to celebrate ASU’s LGBTQ+ population across all its major campuses. The Drag U Downtown: La Rosa event will be hosted at the Beus Center for Law and Society between 6:45 and 10:15 p.m. The event is free for all to attend.
Several organizations including the Rainbow Coalition, Confetti, Undergraduate Student Government Downtown, Residence Hall Association Downtown and more collaborated with local drag queens and several local businesses to make this one of the Downtown Phoenix campus' largest pride events of the season.
The show got its start last year as a collaboration with RHA and the ASU Student Connection and Community office. Patrick Apap, a senior studying public service and public policy and the vice president of Confetti Downtown, said this year the goal was to replicate the event's success but on an even larger scale.
With a higher attendance, more performers, more student organizations involved and more food and entertainment, Drag U Downtown: La Rosa promises an exciting evening for all attending.
“I feel that this drag show is vital for our community here at ASU,” Apap said. “It’s very key to helping LGBTQ+ students feel celebrated and accepted here at the University.”
Planning for the event started early last November in the Multicultural Community of Excellence on the downtown campus. All the student organizations involved started to discuss the logistics of who would be involved in the show.
Since then, Apap and Rainbow Coalition president and education graduate student Emory Hamilton have been hard at work searching for performers, caterers and entertainers for the show.
Getting the performers involved had a lot to do with Hamilton and Apap’s connections with the local drag community. They were able to get six performers total: Chanel Douglas, Keo the Lion, Lady Wood, Kristofer Inez Onyx, Eddie Broadway and Trey the Bearded Queen.
"I’m very excited to perform and be a part of this event and to see all the students get a chance to perform the vast art of drag," drag performer Chanel Douglas said. "I know for many students this will be their first ever show so I’m excited to get their different views and be a part of their first drag experience."
Along with the performers and organizations, it was important to represent LGBTQ+ businesses at the event. Catering will be provided by Phoenix Coqui, a LGBTQ+ owned Puerto Rican restaurant, and The Scookie Bar, an LGBTQ+ owned dessert truck.
Extra security measures have also been put in place to make sure the local community feels safe.
“There’s a lot of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community unfortunately, so first and foremost, it’s a priority that everyone attending feels comfortable and feels that this is a safe space,” Apap said.
The modern art of drag has its origins in 16th-century stagecraft. Over time, it has become a way for people to express themselves through dramatized fashion, makeup and performance.
"Drag for me gives me freedom to be my most authentic self and gives me a platform to express my passion," drag performer Lady Wood said. "I hope the community at ASU watches this drag show and feels that they can be authentic and feel unafraid to explore and create their own art."
Having a drag event at ASU is an important way to celebrate pride and identity for ASU students, especially in light of recent events involving politicians trying to limit drag shows across the country.
"Drag is such an outward celebration of pride," Apap said. "It is my goal to recognize the LGBTQ+ community in spite of the controversy. It’s important to emphasize pride and to make sure the community does not feel oppressed but rather feels uplifted."
The event will showcase work by ASU Herberger fashion students along with a raffle to win ASU merchandise, a hydro flask, a Squishmallow, or a free dinner or dessert from Phoenix Coqui or The Scookie Bar. Entering the raffle costs $1 and all proceeds will be donated toward the non-profit organization The Queer Society.
"I'm really excited to meet the local Phoenix drag queens," said Sophie Warnock, a first-year fashion student and Confetti's president-elect. "I think it's super cool that we are going to expose so many students to drag for the first time in a safe, welcoming environment. Drag is an art form, and I think it's so cool to allow people to see how people in the community can express themselves through art and fashion."
The event aims to show students the community is welcoming, caring and kind, Apap said.
“I also want members of the community to just feel that joy with their identity and feel celebrated," Apap said. "This event is for Pride Week, but any month or any day can be a day for Pride.”
Edited by Claire van Doren, Jasmine Kabiri and Greta Forslund.