Drag culture provides a chance to speak out

Jaycee Kalama, News Contributor

On Oct. 26, Rainbow Continuum put on the Fall Drag Show at the LaSells Stewart Center. Drag is the adoption of clothing and roles of another gender for the purposes of play, entertainment or eroticism. Among the setlist, there were more than 10 artists performing songs ranging from Oogie Boogie’s Song from Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” to Toxic by Britney Spears. 

Rainbow Continuum is a student-fee funded organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, aromantic and agender (LGBTQIA+) students, and their allies at Oregon State University. The purpose of Rainbow Continuum is to create a welcoming and safe place for diverse communities to interact with and relate to one another, educate OSU about the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community, and refer students to the network of support structures and resources available to the LGBTQIA+ community at Oregon State. At the lively Fall Drag Show, there was also a common Halloween theme throughout the performances. 

Bela De Luna, an Oregon State alumni and first time OSU drag performer, expressed many emotions before going on stage. 

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“I’m excited and nervous,” De Luna said. “Performing is all sorts of wonderful and deadly feelings of anxiety but also pure happiness.”

Bela De Luna performed “We Exist” by Arcade Fire. In their performance they included a coffin prop and the use of many rainbow flags commonly known as the gay pride flag or LGBT pride flag, a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride and LGBT social movements. 

Other performers found different ways to include the audience and integrate their props. Some used confetti, while others used flowers, hats and clothing items to throw into the crowd. Audience members were encouraged to tip and applaud the performer on stage, and the crowd certainly did. Although the setlist was smaller this year than in previous years, the crowd went wild for each and every number, giving multiple standing ovations.

One audience member, Evan Walker, a first-year liberal studies and education major, says he had not been to an LGBTQIA+ event besides the Pride Center open house, and wanted to indulge himself in the community more. 

“Being here and watching these performances, you can see that the performers are having such a good time up there, and that they feel safe enough to show who they are,” Walker said.

The entire show lasted just over two hours, comprised of two acts and an intermission. In the first set, there were ten performances. In the second act, there were eight performances, with many of the entertainers performing for a second time. 

King Julian G. String, the first performer of the night, as well as the host of the entire show, said, “I have this wonderful opportunity to do it because the Corvallis drag community is super intentional, intersecting and open with what they do. I can stand up here safely and I can be my gay, fabulous self and I can speak out freely and give someone sitting in the audience who either isn’t able or doesn’t have the courage to do it themselves, the feeling of validation. They get to see someone literally on a stage, like them, being cheered and that helps them feel that they matter as well.” 

Rainbow Continuum puts on these nonprofit drag shows in spring and fall term of every year. All are welcome to go to the shows and support the drag community. Everybody may also visit the Pride Center on campus, as well as reach out to SOL, the LGBT Multicultural Support Network at OSU.