Students screened into the Carl Hansen Student Center Piazza as Kesha’s “Blow” played softly over a set of speakers on the evening of November 12.
Attendees at Quinnipiac University’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance Drag Dinner and Show began to pile their plates with the evening dinner of macaroni and cheese, chicken, sausage and peppers. The tables next to the buffet offered free GSA t-shirts, pride flags, pins and stickers.
Soon the chairs and tables were so full that attendees began to find places to watch the show on the stairs and on the floor. Faces were bright with smiles as friends talked easily about the event with the Progress Pride flag draped from the second floor.
GSA members scattered around the room whispered to each other in amazement at the large number of students, many of whom were newbies to drag shows.
“I had never been to any kind of drag event and thought about how it is part of our culture, so I thought I should be a part of it,” said attendee Satine Berntsen , a young philosophy and film, television and media arts student. double major. “It’s a big cultural thing for the queer community. It allowed us to express ourselves for so long.
Drag originated as theatrical slang from the days when women were not allowed in theater productions and men were forced to play female roles. The term has since evolved into the most well-known beloved performance art today, where drag performers use makeup and clothing to perform a high-energy exaggeration of gender expression.
“(The event) creates a good space for the queer community on campus,” said attendee Sabrina Duverglas, a junior philosophy student. “I think having events like this, or any type of forum or event, where you can see other people who are in your community and talk to them and just know that you have a space to exist, makes it more comfortable to actually go to this school.”
The noise quickly died down when the first performer was announced, local Connecticut drag queen Sienna Rose. Britney Spears echoed in the square as Rose emerged from the hallway in a sparkling replica of the playmaker outfit from Spears’ 2009 “Circus” tour.
“Do we feel weird as shit?” Rose asked the crowd. The crowd applauded their enthusiastic response as they introduced the second Queen of the Night, New York native Andora Tetee.
Pink pearls clashed happily to Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” as Tetee played the role of the beloved country singer. Tetee has been dragging for 22 years, dazzled the crowd with her larger than life and in your face performance.
“I have a whole suitcase to show you,” Tetee said as she and Rose momentarily disappeared from the scene.
Before the crowd was too comfortable to mingle, Tetee once again made his entrance, this time in a shimmery pink jumpsuit adorned with a dizzyingly feathered headpiece. She pranced through the crowd before handing the spotlight back to Rose, who performed a Christmas-themed Spears mash-up.
The queens took a break from their performances to hold a lip-syncing competition for your life with members of the public, similar to the segment on “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. The students performed to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and twerked to Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” before Tetee and Rose declared them all winners.
The GSA eboard, however, decided to host its own performance battle as the queens changed one last time, this one much fiercer.
“We’re not like queens,” said Sean Doyle, one of GSA’s co-presidents. “We are bitches in this room.”
This time, audience members battled it out by performing to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and one of The Weather Girls’ favorites “It’s Raining Men.” The hair was flipped and the cartwheels cheered as the winner, freshman biochemistry major Langston Ramirez-Pharr was chosen by the applause of the audience.
Rose took the stage to perform one last time with a rendition of “Fabulous, Baby!” of the Broadway musical version of “Sister Act”. After she finished, she sat down in front of the fireplace to talk about a topic that made many jaws drop: Quinnipiac’s budget weekend.
“Make sure you write all your admins, everybody on the fucking board, to give the GSA all the money they want!” Rose said as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Tetee made her final appearance in a flashy recreation of Lady Gaga’s outfit from her “Rain on Me” music video, which she paired with an energetic space-themed mash-up that immersed the audience in a frenzy.
Although her performance was just as fun as the rest of the night, the Queen ended the night with one final heartfelt message.
“Take the love in this room and bring it out into the world,” Tetee said.
GSA co-chair Emily Bartlett was pleased to see the exceptionally high turnout and the amount of cheer that permeated the square throughout the night.
“It was such a safe space and everyone could be themselves and have fun,” said Bartlett, a health science student. “That’s really what we were looking for, so it all worked out.”