PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY MOLLY SIMPSON / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
Wilfrid Laurier University hosted its first drag performance on the Brantford campus called “Winter’s a Drag” on March 23.
The event took place at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, a location change made the day before due to the weather forecast. Giveaways began at 7:15 p.m. and included free t-shirts, hoodies, glow gifts and other prizes. The show went from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Attendees were encouraged to arrive early as seats were first-come, first-serve.
The Office of the Senior Executive and the Campus Experience Coordinator, Beth Sanders, organized the event and the Student Life Levy provided the funding. The event was free and no registration was required. It was also in compliance with all university and public health guidelines.
“Part of the university experience is outside of the learnings that happen in the classroom that might be specific to a program or to a course,” said Sanders. “It’s an opportunity for a person to expand, to explore new things and to find people with similar interests.”
Free hot chocolate vouchers were handed out at the entrance by a group of Laurier staff volunteers. The show had five performers, including Tiffany Boxx, Manny Dingo, Ava King, XtacyLove and Makayla Walker Louboutin. All the performers were from Vision Drag Artists. The stage was decorated with glow-up furniture.
“Every part of the performance was just perfection,” said Nafisa Tasnuva, a third-year user experience design student. “They’re absolute creative geniuses.”
Boxx was the host of the show. Each artist took turns performing and walking around the theatre engaging with the audience. At the end of the show, all the performers gathered on the stage to close together.
“There was not a negative moment. It was all positive vibes,” said first-year user experience design student Olivia Pavacic.
The event was meant to build vibrancy, excitement and engagement among students and the Brantford community. It aimed to be a celebration of talent and inspire students to have the courage to be confident with their identity.
“A drag performance is a way for individuals to express themselves creatively and is a unique form of self-expression,” said Sanders.
“As a member of the LGTBQ community, drag shows are actually one of the first experiences I’ve had that helped me learn how to express myself,” said Tasnuva. “It’s the ultimate safe space because you know the people on stage are just like you.”
The Office of the Senior Executive and Sanders intended the drag performance to be in January to welcome students returning to campus. However, the show date was pushed back due to covid restrictions. Otherwise, they had been planning the event since October.
With final assignments and exams coming up, Sanders said, “I’d really love to see students just enjoying themselves, maybe taking a break away from their studies.”
“I have a lot of school work lately and I’ve been so stressed,” said Pavacic. “Just going to that event within the school was helpful because I was always happy there. There wasn’t a moment where I was stressed about things in life.”
For a lot of students, this may have been their first live drag performance.
“Drag shows I’m sure happen quite frequently in an area like Toronto,” said Sanders. “We’re bringing something to the community that might be new.”
“It’s not something you see on the streets every day,” said Pavacic.
“In small cities like this, drag shows are very essential,” siad Tasnuva. “We feel like ‘Oh, we weren’t just an after-thought.’”
Students encourage Laurier to host more LGBTQ-related events like this in the future.