They owned the night with sequins, glitter and makeup as bright, bold and colorful as the rainbow lights flashing from the rafters of Indiana Memorial Union’s Alumni Hall.
Drag queens from Bloomington and as far as Puerto Rico strutted down the runway and across the stage in Thursday’s Pride Extravaganza Drag Show.
“A number of groups come to us and ask for support,” said Doug Bauder, office coordinator of IU’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Student Support Services. “We did not initiate this. This was — some of the community drag queens, I think, brought this together. They wanted to do something as a welcome event for incoming students, and they wanted to be out of the bar scene for younger students, wanted to do it on campus.”
GLBTSSS was a sponsor of the event and one of the many service desks set up around the room, along with Spectrum, the Residence Halls Association and Positive Link HIV Services, which offered free HIV testing.
“They did it in a residential hall last year, and it was so successful they thought they’d move it here,” Bauder said. “So it’s a welcome-back event for queer students and queer-friendly students — allies, of course. We thought it was a good idea when we heard about it last year and gave some money and did it again this year.”
The doors opened for those with VIP tickets at 5:55 p.m. for a special meet and greet. At 6:15 p.m., the doors opened to the general public to peruse the various resource tables.
Around 7:30 p.m., the red curtains closed and the lights dimmed, hushing the audience. Bloomington’s own Argenta Perón worked her way down the aisle in a skirt made of CDs that was quickly discarded by two male backup dancers as she launched into a Beyoncé medley.
The rest of the roster for the night included Patricia Yolanda Weave and DeAndre Jackson.
Raven and April Carrión, who were featured on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” also took turns dancing and lip-syncing.
Patricia took the stage after Argenta, bursting from backstage in a pink leopard print jumpsuit.
Her routine led her to interact with the audience, motorboating one boy in the front row and teasing another with a brief lap dance near the end of her performance.
DeAndre danced down the center aisle to the Madonna classic, “Vogue,” a large purple bow bouncing on his chest.
His bow was soon discarded along with his wig as he made his way back into the audience, grinding on students sitting in the front few rows.
Though she didn’t perform, local drag queen Mocha Debeaute, known as the Beyoncé of Bloomington, attended the event.
“I think it educates the community on a different art form,” she said. “I think it combats the idea of what drag queens are and takes it from what they see on TV as ‘bitchy,’ drag queens as being people who are not bitchy, who actually have a soul and are people instead of what they see on TV.”
The event was senior Jodie Otter’s first drag show. She said it was one of her bucket-list items when coming to IU from a small, Midwestern town.
“I like the flamboyant characters,” Otter said. “It’s something I never get to be.”
Though there was plenty to learn from the event, Bauder said he sees it as a night of entertainment.
“I hear people say there are forums, there are speeches, there are films, there are support groups, but we need to have a little more fun sometimes, so this is an event to have fun,” he said.