McCain hosts 13th annual K-State Drag Show

Victoria Fox reaches for money during a performace of the K-State drag show on Feb. 3, 2017. Altogether the queens raised $3,000 for campus LGBT scholarships. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

In front of an almost sold-out crowd in McCain Auditorium, drag queens and a drag king sang and danced to hit songs at the 13th annual Kansas State Drag Show. It was sponsored by Union Programming Council, the LGBT Resource Center, Student Organization for Cultural Studies and the Sexuality and Gender Alliance.

“The show is about positivity and togetherness, in a time when all of our people might not feel that way,” said Basil El-Shaarawi, senior in management information systems and Union Programming Council multicultural co-chair. “I think the show comforts people, and they have a better perspective of the LGBT community. (The show) was fun, educational … Overall, a great show.”

At the show, audience members saw performances by drag queens Monica Moree, Lilkim Chi, Victoria Fox, TyWoo and Sarah Jessica Darker, who were joined by drag king Alexander Cameron.

Monica Moree, played by Dusty Garner-Carpenter, encouraged audience members to tip the drag queens during their performances, and tip runners shuffled through the nearly-full auditorium to collect dollar bills.

Support from agricultural university

Garner-Carpenter, director and coordinator of the drag show and K-State alum, said the drag show is significant because of the university’s location and student body.

“We happen to be in a very rural, agriculturally-focused university,” Garner-Carpenter said. “We have an opportunity to show students something different, and it is my honor to get to do that. The goal is that when they leave here, they go back to their communities with a different mindset than what they started with. I want them to go back and think about queer people differently than what they walked into this theater with.”

Tracy Seehafer, Junction City resident, said she has attended the show for at least the past seven years. Seehafer said the show exposes students to more diverse perspectives.

“I think the drag show is immensely important,” Seehafer said. “We need to be able to accept people openly, whether it’s for their sexuality or their point-of-views. We all just need to be a community to get to know each other instead of living in a world based on fear.”

Garner-Carpenter said he was fortunate enough to receive a $500 LGBT scholarship during his time at K-State, which he said was the difference between eating Ramen noodles and not eating at all.

Midway through the show, Garner-Carpenter gave a special performance, during which all collected tips would be used to fund scholarships for LGBT students. Garner-Carpenter pledged to match up to $1,000 of the amount raised and at the end of the show, he revealed that audience members had given $1,605.

After Garner-Carpenters’ matching funds and a donation by his employer in Cincinnati, Ohio, $3,000 were ultimately raised for LGBT scholarships.

Garner-Carpenter said since first starting over a decade ago, the drag show has had much greater support from the university, especially due to the efforts of Brandon Haddock, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center.

“When we started here 13 years ago, we didn’t have an LGBT Resource Center,” Garner-Carpenter said. “That didn’t exist for us. Watching what Brandon has done with that amazing center has been nothing short of brilliant. Looking at a campus that had only one LGBT organization on campus and now has five or six, that’s an example (of) the change that this show has made.”

During the show, Garner-Carpenter asked Haddock to come on stage to receive applause for his work for LGBT students on campus.

Event promotes growth of LGBT resources

Although few university resources for LGBT resources existed a decade ago, the drag show has met little, if any, opposition during the time it has existed, Garner-Carpenter said.

“(We haven’t met) even a little bit of resistance,” Garner-Carpenter said. “I try to get the Westboro Baptist Church to come to this god-damn show every year and I can’t get them to show up for nothing.”

“When we started this show, we used to come out to the (Student) Union on the Friday of the show in drag to promote the show,” Garner-Carpenter continued. “It always happened that it would be during junior visit day, so we had young students and their parents running around, and that’s the only time we ran into anything even semi-negative. Since then, it’s just been an incredibly positive experience.”

During the show, Garner-Carpenter commented on political issues, including the recent executive order by President Donald Trump which bars immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries.

At the end of the performance and during a song which portrayed the struggles faced by drag queens, Garner-Carpenter removed his drag apparel and put on a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Punch More Nazis,” a reference to an incident last month in which white-supremacist Richard Spencer was punched during an interview.

Garner-Carpenter said as long as there is demand for the show, he will keep returning to the university.

“Every year, I think it’s going to be the last show and every year, they keep asking us back,” Garner-Carpenter said. “We can’t get any bigger. McCain is limited in space, but it’s what we have and as long as we keep selling it out, we’ll keep coming back. As long as people are learning and all of my girls are safe and my audience is safe, we’ll keep being here as long as we can.”

I'm Rafael Garcia, and I'm a 2019 K-State graduate in journalism and former editor-in-chief of the K-State Collegian. I believe that much of the world's problems come from a lack of understanding of other people, but by telling other people's stories and finding the good in the world, I think we can increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. Questions, comments, concerns, news tips? Email the Collegian team at