On Oct. 8, ETSU’s HEROES hosted their annual drag show and costume contest known as the Goth Prom.
The show started with professional drag queens performing theatrics such as dance numbers, songs, and scenes from various movies.
Early in the night, the crowd was greeted with Jack Sparrow, Tiffany and Chucky, and a dance performance to the song “Blood” by In This Moment.
The fabulous Eureka O’Hara was the hostess of the night. Each time she would ask a question, such as “Ya’ll having fun tonight?” she would demand the crowd to reply back with a “Yes Ma’am.”
The night was full of laughter and creepy costumes, spectacular drag king and queens performing.
The winner of the costume contest was a doll.
As she got on stage to present, she stopped and turned her head slightly to the audience. Eureka said, “That was creepy as hell.”
More drag performances ensued: Anna Tomical with a Hannibal Lecter skit, complete with fake blood, and a dance by Evan Masters where his shirt came off to reveal glowing lights around his torso.
A spinning, flashing baton twirling performance by Miss Cherry Popped (Ben Schaller, president of HEROES, said he was lucky enough to get to perform with the local drag queens) was a real treat.
Not trans identified, Schaller was still excited to perform at the Goth Prom.
“I just had the pleasure of helping in the organization of the largest HEROES event in a few years,” Schaller said.
“Being a drag queen is not the same as being trans,” Schaller said. “Some drag queens are trans, but not all are. And certainly not all transfolk are drag performers.”
Being transgender, trans identified, or just trans can be difficult.
Many are introverted so it’s often hard for them to open up to their families, friends, and the public.
“You have to put up the effort,” O’Hara said. “People treat things they don’t understand differently.”
A major part of HEROES is to educate, hence the name: Helping to Educate Regarding Orientation, Equality, and the Spectrum.
“We are ETSU’s Queer/Straight Alliance,” said Schaller.
“Our biggest goal is to simply make a meaningful, and open presence on this campus. We do this in hopes to create a more open and accepting atmosphere for everyone, regardless where they are in their coming out process.”
This month, HEROES will be hosting various talks explaining in more detail what asexuality, intersex, bisexual/pansexual, and trans identified individuals really are.
“Biological sex and gender are two very different things,” said Schaller. “It’s been my experience that gender is nothing but a social performance. Drag is a way to perform and sometimes satire these gender roles in over the top and extreme ways.”
O’Hara said gender expression on campus gives her hope.
HEROES meets on Monday at 7 p.m., Roger Stout, Room 120.
Anyone who is willing or wants to help make the ETSU campus “a friendlier climate for LGBTQIA+ folk” is welcome to attend.