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Drag for a good cause

–lsapp@my.apsu.edu

Performer The Princess sits on the edge of the stage as part of her first routine during the GSA drag show on Thursday, Nov. 15. Janay Neal | Staff photographer

On Thursday, Nov. 15, the Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) presented the annual fall semester drag show.

According to Ryan Whipkey, President of GSA, this organization and their events “are for everybody.” He shared his insights about the history of APSU’s drag shows.

“Last year was an awakening,” Whipkey said. In 2011, the first Drag show was held on APSU campus by Whipkey’s friends.

This year was different, as the word spread among the community of female impersonators.

“I was contacted by 30 to 40 impersonators, and I chose nine of them based on their diversity,” Whipkey said.

Whipkey said he decided the show’s performers based on years of experience as well as racial diversity. Next year, there will be two drag shows during the school year — one during each semester.

This year’s host and hostess featured Ryan Ploeckelman and Gretchen Cordy from the Clarksville-based “Ryan and Gretchen in the Morning” radio show.

“This is my first drag show and I am looking forward to it,” Ploeckelman said to the audience. During the intermission, the pair gave out various prizes to members of the audience.

Of the nine performers selected, eight were present.  One performer native to Clarksville, Anna Freeze, said she had recently won the Stonewall Pageant at the Princess Theatre in Hopkinsville.

“I said I never would enter that pageant,” Freeze said, “but a week before it started, I joined in and won.”  She wore her crown from the Stonewall Pageant prior to her performance at APSU.

The show featured some other notable performers, as well, including The Princess, Dee Ranged, Nicole Ellington Dupree, Natalie Simone, Precious, Paige Turner and Toi Divine.

Some of the performers dance at various venues nationwide, as well as at popular clubs on Church Street in Nashville.

The primary purpose of the drag show was to raise funds for the Oasis Center in Nashville.

The Oasis Center is a youth-serving organization that is involved with more than 60 homes and schools that speak over 26 languages.

After expenses are paid, the profits from the drag show will be donated to the LGBT youth.

The public is often unaware of youth who disclose their different sexual identities and preferences to their parents and, as a result, are often turned away from their homes and family.

The Oasis Center is based on the fact that there is a growing number of LGBT youth who need the support of safe, connected adults in the community.

“This year’s drag show was better than last year,” said student James McCoy. “It’s clear that Mr. Whipkey pulled out all the stops this year and certainly made the community proud.”

The audience members were very involved during the show, cheering performers with screams, clapping and generous tipping, which will mostly be donated to the Oasis Center.

For more information about the Oasis Center, please click here.

About Linda Sapp, Staff Writer

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