To raise money for Rainbow Alley, MSU Denver’s GLBT office said “bring on the queens” with the “Love is a Drag” event.
On Feb. 14, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Services office turned the Tivoli Turnhalle into a lounge. A small group of round tables with pink shaded lamps were set up in front of a small stage.
“Love is a Drag” was the third annual drag show held on campus.
The premise was that attendees throw dollar bills at their favorite performers, and all the money would be donated to Rainbow Alley.
“I would encourage each of you to look in your pockets and find your dollars,” said Carrie Henkins from the Institute of Women’s Studies. “If you don’t have dollars, go get some dollars and throw them at our fabulous performers.”
When master of ceremonies Pansy Petals took the stage, she ushered viewers to the front next to the stage and introduced the first of thirteen acts: the Cycle Sluts, Denver’s original camp drag comedy group.
Other acts, like Rolanda Flor of the Cycle Sluts preferred comedy, lip-syncing to “I Want a Real Vagina There (so frickin’ bad)” to the tune of Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire.”
It was not all queens, either. A couple kings and other “drag royalty” took the stage to perform as well, including local act La Galla Queer Performance Collective.
All the while, Petals sarcastically reminded spectators to donate money.
“You people are cheap bitches,” she said. “Part of this whole thing is you need to tip. Why do you think I moved you up to the front? I’m going to shame you into tipping.”
But underneath the wigs, comedy and glitter was a message of acceptance and outreach.
For Craig Archuletta, who helped put on the event both this year and last, there is more to it than gay, lesbian and transgender issues.
Archuletta is genderqueer, or someone who does not identify under the normal gender binary.
“I don’t really do drag, I do just different pieces of me,” Archuletta said. “My personal identity with it is that I don’t particularly identify with male or female, I just sort of navigate somewhere in between. When I walk into a store, I don’t go ‘there’s my section,’ it’s more like ‘there’s my store.’”
According to Steve Willich, the director of GLBTSS since the summer of 2010, their office started the drag show in light of the teen suicides that were happening due to bullying.
The first year they donated to the Trevor Project, a group working against suicide among GLBT youth.
Then they began working more locally and started donating to Rainbow Alley, a resource center for GLBT youth from ages 12-17 and their supporters. This year’s donations again will go to Rainbow Alley.
“I was bullied when I was a kid for being gay, for being not of the norm,” Willich said. “I want to help defend them, I want to make sure that youth here have an easier time of it, that they are able to focus on their education instead of on discrimination, focus on their education instead of worrying what people think of them, making their education experience equal for them — that’s kind of my goal.”
More information on Rainbow Alley
•It is located at 1301 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver at the garden level of The Center’s building.
•Their telephone number is 303-831-0442
•The are open Mondays by appointment only, Tuesday-Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. They are only open on the second and fourth Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. They are closed on Sundays.
•It is a free program, and students who use the facility are welcome to use the medical clinic, computer lab, library, kitchen and hang-out space.
•They also have a dance floor, ping-pong table and VCR/DVD player.
•In addition, they have youth-led activities with adult supervision.
•It is a drug-, alcohol-, and hate-free environment.