While the spring semester may have students bustling with essays, exams and homework, everything was put on pause for one of the most anticipated events of the year: Spectrum’s 2017 Drag Out.
The fourth annual drag show is both a competition and charity fundraiser where half the proceeds of the event will go to Pridelines, a local LGBTQ+ youth charity that builds bonds and offers educational programming. Both students and professional drag queens took to the stage on the third floor of the Shalala Student Center Thursday night in hopes of being crowned Drag Out champion.
The highly anticipated event is usually held at The Rathskeller but, due to safety concerns, the event was moved to Center Ballroom. As the night went on, the East Ballroom was opened up to accommodate the capacity crowd of over 500 students, faculty and the community.
Tiffany Fantasia, famous Miami Beach drag queen, hosted the night and even performed herself.
“Are you ready for more homosexuality?” Fantasia said as more students showcased their talents in drag.
Many of the night’s acts included dancing, lip-syncing and several outfit changes.
Spectrum President and Drag Out coordinator, Mary Balise, looks forward to putting on the event, especially for those who have never experienced anything like it.
“Obviously it’s a really fun, cool experience and many people haven’t experienced Drag,” she said. “It’s also a great educational experience, in addition to making it as fun as it is, we try to sneak in some educational stuff throughout the event.”
To start the night, members of each organization explain the difference between transgender and drag to bring awareness to those that might not know. A representative from Pridelines also spoke about the importance of in an inclusive community and importance of accepting all members of the community.
Preparations for Drag Out began in November of 2016 and Balise describes the work as being “My baby. I work to the bone to make sure this event is great.”
Balise has been the coordinator for Drag Out since she transferred to the University of Miami last year. This year, she is happily overwhelmed by the “insane amount of administrative support and love from the whole university,” she has received.
The anticipation for the event has been building all year and graduate student, and judge, Alex Ledgerwood, can attest to the event’s growing success. Ledgerwood, who has attended Drag Out for the past two years, says it has progressed to “more attendance, more professional and better overall” throughout the years.
“My favorite part about it is that it brings the queer of the undergrads together and a space of your own,” Ledgerwood said. “I’m looking forward to the fun and to seeing participants that are enjoying themselves.”
Sophomore Torrey Crosby arrived at the event at exactly 7 p.m. to get a front-row seat because of how excited he has been to see it.
“Other than Homecoming and Sportsfest, it’s my favorite event here,” he said. “I came last year as a freshman and it was the first large scale event that I saw that really celebrated the LGTBQ community and… it was really special to me.”
Crosby says he wants to participate in the event but is waiting until his senior year to perform to “go out with a bang with a choreography and everything.”
Until then, students will have to patiently wait for next year’s Drag Out to see if it can possibly outdo itself. For more information on SpectrUM, visit their website.