On Thursday, March 7, in Clement Auditorium, APSU’s Gay-Straight Alliance held an event called “Drag Idol”. Drag Idol, inspired by the popular talent show American Idol, presented seven different drag queens who competed for the last spot on the lineup for GSA’s upcoming spring drag show.
Two queens who were big successes at the GSA’s last drag show in the fall hosted the event: Miss Anna Freeze and Precious Summers Hall. At the end of the night, contestant Lakota Lux was announced as the winner and won the last spot for the spring show on Friday, March 22, in the Music and Mass Communications Concert Hall.
“Drag Idol is an event to not only give the contestants a chance to compete against each other for a spot to our spring drag show, but to also to de-stigmatize the view of drag queens,” said Kelsey Brasfield, vice president of the GSA and co-chairperson of the GSA’s Drag Committee. “We had such a variety of talent and performers wanting to be in our spring show that we couldn’t pick. So the committee decided that we needed a good way to choose a queen.”
The winner was chosen solely by the audience’s vote. As each contestant performed, two ushers carried two plastic buckets throughout the audience. Every $1 donated counted as one vote towards the performer.
“I think it’s a great educational opportunity to teach students about diversity, because drag queens and drag kings are things you don’t see every day, but [they are] a part of the LGBT community,” said GSA president Ryan Whipkey. “By bringing them to campus instead of having them at some bar off campus, it makes it more accessible for students to actually learn about [the drag community]. You can actually talk to the queens afterwards and ask them why they do what they do.”
Drag Idol was the third drag show to be held on campus by the GSA with Whipkey as president. Whipkey plans to continue the tradition of GSA drag shows and is optimistic for the upcoming spring show after the success of Drag Idol.
“I go to the events because they’re educational events,” said student Ashley Anderson. “I usually end up learning something different. [The events] help to provide a different perspective a lot of times, especially for people on campus who aren’t exposed to different things like that.”
Contestant ChiChi Rodriguez has lived in Clarksville since birth and has become a well-known local name in the drag community. Rodriguez expressed her thanks towards APSU’s GSA for holding events like Drag Idol and encouraging diversity in the Clarksville community.
“What I always suggest to the people that are apprehensive about going to a drag show or a gay bar or a [GSA] meeting, is just go and be open-minded. We talk about everything; we’re very accepting of everything and everyone … It’s not going to be like your friends told you or what you see on TV or what you heard on the radio, because it’s never going to be like that, no matter what. You’ll come here, close-minded, [thinking] ‘oh, I’m scared,’ and then by the end of the night, ‘Oh, I had so much fun’,” Rodriguez said.
Lakota Lux, the winner of Drag Idol, is a newcomer to the drag community. Prior to Drag Idol, Lux had only been performing in drag for a few weeks. “We definitely don’t have a gay bar in Clarksville — the closest one is 45 minutes away. So something like [Drag Idol] lets people come out when they normally wouldn’t,” Lux said. “It’s safe, instead of driving up to Nashville, and it provides a space for people like me [to] come out and just be [themselves].”
Rodriquez later compared “those who are close-minded” and the LGBT/drag community to the Aesop fable The Lion and the Mouse. “The lion wanted to eat the mouse, and then the lion got captured and the only way he could get out was if the mouse set him free by chewing on the rope. That’s how it plays into effect nowadays; the stronger person always beats down on the weaker person, but the end of it, the stronger person is going to need help and the only thing that’s going to be around is the weak one. They are always coming to the rescue. We need to make sure there’s always a good balance between everybody — to help everybody out and to help them broaden their horizons and gain more knowledge.”