For 16 years, National Coming Out Day has been celebrated throughout the country on Oct. 11.
The date commemorates the 1987 march on Washington for lesbian and gay rights. MU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center extended the celebration with a week’s worth of activities to celebrate and support members of the LGBT community.
On Oct. 11, the LGBT Center, Residence Hall Association and the Triangle Coalition, a social group for LGBT students, sponsored an amateur drag show in Memorial Union. It was the 10th year MU has held Coming Out Week activities.
More than 200 students and community members packed the Mark Twain Ballroom to watch the performances. Each performer lip-synched and danced to a song of choice, frequently inviting audience members to participate.
Dustin Hampton, president of the Triangle Coalition, performed a remake of the 1970s song “Car Wash” as Miranda L’amour, dressed in a psychedelic black and white jumpsuit.
Hampton said the event was used to inform the audience about the history of Coming Out Day as well as entertain it.
“We could have had a lecture, but we wouldn’t have reached as many people,” he said.
Hampton said he hoped the show would increase the visibility of the LGBT community and make people question their beliefs about the community. He said he would like to see people draw on their own experiences, such as the drag show, when it comes to making decisions that affect the LGBT community, including the August vote on Amendment 2, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. It passed statewide.
Aminata Coulibaly, a junior, came to the show for the first time to support friends of hers who were performing. She said the activities held during Coming Week serve as a resource for everyone, but especially those not on campus.
“It’s a good thing — a very good idea for the community,” she said Cale Mitchell, a case manager and project coordinator of the Regional Aids Interfaith Network of Central Missouri, encouraged attendance at the show, for both the men he works with as well as anyone else interested. He said drag shows take a tongue-in-cheek look at the stereotypes that surround the LGBT community, while still serving a useful purpose.
“I think it tries to get allied individuals involved and participating to show support,” he said.