Sponsored by Trans Listening Circle, Queer Activist Collective and the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism, Drag on Fire 2018 was hosted in George Sherman Union on Oct. 20 and drew the attention of about 150 students and their guests, many of whom were here for Family and Friends Weekend.
“It’s my first time here at this particular event,” said Kristen, who came to BU from New Jersey. “My cousin is organizing the show, and that’s why I came here. The show is important to us, to everybody.”
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a charity and street performance drag group who were the Emcees of the night’s event, urged the attendees to vote for LGBTQ+ rights in the upcoming midterm elections.
“I’ve never seen a drag show,” said Naomi, holding a stripe of raffle tickets that they sold to benefit Youth on Fire, an organization that provides shelter and care for LGBTQ+ youth in Boston. “I think it shows a lot of openness and acceptance. It’s a thing people in our society need to open up to. So, it’s really important that people educate themselves on different types of culture. I’m really happy that they are doing this event.”
The featured guests included well known local drag queens Bruiser and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, as well as two rising stars, Cherri V. Coke from BU and Stella Elektra from another local college.
“Coming to school, I’ve been encountering other people who are interested in drag like I am,” said Stella Elektra, who is also a theater major in a university in Boston. “When I was a freshman, there was a performance based class that the actors take, which other students are also invited to. When I was there, we could decide to set up and take a number. Then I got into a dress. From there it was woven into me.”
Cherri V. Coke, a junior and a performance major in the school of theater at BU, shared her personal experience and thoughts on drag culture.
“When I was a kid, I liked running in the house in my underwear dancing. And then in high school, I did plays, and that’s what I do at BU,” said Coke, “I haven’t been doing drag for really long, but I am extremely glad that I started to do it. I feel like every time I do it, I learn a little bit more about myself.”
Coke also expressed her concerns on the misunderstandings that the general public has on drag.
“Sometimes the image that is projected is that [drag] is only something cisgender men do, and that it’s making fun of cisgender or transgender women,” said Coke. “But, there are people of all genders and all sexes who do this. Every day, everyone puts on a costume, and drag is just one kind of it. So, it’s just one way of exploring yourselves.”
For those interested in drag and might not know where to start, Coke recommends starting off by going to a show.
“Meet people, practice and try things,” said Coke. “There are amazing makeup tutorials all over the internet. And, there’s such a world also outside of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Everybody has something different, different senses of creativity and what really matters is that you find your own voice.”
The drag queens’ lip sync performances won rounds of applause from the audience. During the interactive sessions, one lucky student with the stage name Angiosperm was chosen to perform the first drag show of her life on the stage.
For Rhiannon, a sophomore at BU, this was not the first time attending Drag on Fire.
“The LGBT community has a lot of issues, and doesn’t always get the support from the government, and from BU, so we have to host an event like this,” said Rhiannon. “Also, all proceeds are going to fund Youth on Fire, which is an LGBT organization. It’s a way for LGBT people and allies to come together to reduce stigma around LGBT stuff.”