Sunday, June 16, 2024

Queer art and representation at the university

Arts and CultureQueer art and representation at the university

Staff Writer

On April 19, university programming boards, The Crew and the Lavender Programming Board (the latter being the university’s oldest LGBTQ student run organization) hosted Hen Haus, which featured two famous drag queens, Shea Couleé and Alyssa Edwards.

The queens are best known for competing on the popular reality television show RuPaul’s Drag Race.

As early as two hours before doors opened, the university’s queer and ally community gathered for the event. Students of all identities and backgrounds could be spotted entering the building, many being dressed to the nines, complimenting one another’s style.

As the event’s start time came closer, the line had already formed past the Trabant University Center lounge. Anticipation built up as the students heard the sound team testing music on the other side of the wall. When members of The Crew opened the doors, anticipation burst into pure excitement.

Nayzeth Romero-Chavarria, a junior English education major, expressed that she was moved by the event. Opportunities of seeing queer art in action do not present themselves often in her experience. 

She also mentioned that a lot of the attendees looked up to these queens, and the dedication of their performance to the students made the event special because it engaged the university’s queer community.

Other students in the line shared similar feelings, such as Cami Zavawski, a junior English major. They thought the event was a perfect way to get students at the university involved with queer art. They also noticed that because the event was free, it removed the potential for a financial barrier, allowing more students to come experience the night.

Despite the Hen Haus event, Romero-Chavarria and Zavawski believe that the university can do more for queer representation and appreciation. 

“I do see professors themselves having the queer safe space stickers on their doors,” Zavawski said. “But that’s just surface level.”

The event included performances by Edwards, Couleé and Jolene Cuisine, a local Delaware drag queen known best for her live performances, a student lip sync battle and a light-hearted Q&A.

When the queens stepped out on stage, students began to scream and cheer. By the look of the audience members’ faces, it was clear that they were very amazed by the performances.

After the queens had performed their numbers, they invited students to walk the catwalk and perform in a lip sync battle.

As the students did their drop splits and back flips on stage, their peers cheered them on. After the performance, Couleé mentioned how this was the most “sickening” performance she has seen out of her college visits. 

Despite the lively performances, the heart-to-heart with the students contributed to the night. Some students asked the queens about their thoughts on the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16, while others asked for life advice.

Couleé urged the students to believe in themselves and to trust their instincts.

“You need to believe in yourself, trust your instincts and your gut,” Couleé said. “We have tons of voices in our heads. We have good ones, we have bad ones, but there’s that one that’s the most comforting that you trust the most.”

The queens closed off the night with energetic performances. Afterwards, everyone gathered around for a group picture.

Zavawski mentioned that the first time they went to a drag show, they were filled with such immense joy that even their cheeks hurt from smiling. They said they had tears in their eyes the entire time because of how comfortable and happy they were around everyone.

“As queer people that’s all we ever wanted,” Edwards said. “To be accepted, celebrated, heard and seen.”

Editor’s Note: Nayzeth Romero-Chavarria is a former staff member of The Review. As of the Spring 2024 semester, Romero-Chavarria is no longer on staff.




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