LOGAN, Utah (AP) — The first-ever drag show at traditionally conservative Utah State University drew a large and supportive crowd to cheer on 10 drag performers in an event that organizers said marks progress on LGBTQ issues.
Last week’s show was held as part of a discussion about drag culture and the LGBTQ community. Performers not only danced and sang but also answered questions about what taking part in the show meant to them, The Salt Lake Tribune reports .
Performer Tyler Jones spent several hours to transforming into “Anya Bacon.” He put on fake eyelashes, towering blond wig, 6-inch stilettos and reconfigured couch cushions to look like “lady hips” and declared: “Honey, I look good.”
Jones strutted to the stage and sang the Lily Allen song, “F You.” Afterward, he cried tears of joy.
“It was such a moving experience for me,” said Jones, a Utah State University student. “It’s such a big step for our little rural community.”
Nearly 1,000 people filled a ballroom on the campus in Logan, a small agriculture community.
“It was just amazing to see how much passion and love there was,” said Hannah McDonald, a resident assistant who helped plan the event. “It was important for people to see and recognize that this community exists here.”
Jared Espiritu, a nursing student who performed as Aliyah, practiced toe touches in white strappy heels backstage before putting on a top hat and glittery purple cape for the first number. For the second performance, Espiritu wore a Spandex rainbow one-piece suit and a thick brown wig.
He said he participated to bring more attention to what he says is a marginalized group.
“I feel like I can reconstruct who I want to be with it,” Espiritu said. “I have the opportunity to create a character.”
Jones helped start the drag scene in the Logan area after watching the popular television show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” He said it’s been slow to catch on in a community that doesn’t quite understand what the form of self-expression is about.
“I identify as male, but I also cannot deny that there is a part of me that I can express as a woman,” Jones said.