‘Largest Charity Drag Show in the World’ empowers students in gender, diversity and education

2022 K-State Drag Show hosted by UPC in McCain Auditorium (Archive photo by Kourtney Rumback | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: Added an archive image as the post’s featured image.

The crowd roared as drag queen and host of the K-State Drag Show Monica Moree (Dusty Joe Garner-Carpenter) stepped on the stage in McCain Auditorium for the second time that night. The bursting auditorium grew quiet as the dazzling host announced the show’s short delay due to a line out the door for last-minute ticket sales, then erupted loudly as the mezzanine began to fill.

When Moree came back out the third time, she promised the crowd they’d leave with a little more love than they walked in the door with.

“You’re sitting at the largest charity drag show in the world,” Moree said. “We’re creating safe spaces out there, in the world, by creating safe spaces in here, right now.”

The annual show raises money for Kansas State’s LGBTQ students, helping to fund scholarships, excellence funds and counseling services through the LGBT Resource Center.

“The Dusty Joe Garner Excellence Fund of the LGBT Resource Center provided assistance to over 100 students in 2022,” Moree said. “That fund provides financial access to mental health care for queer students, gender affirming care, counseling and more.”

The performance featured drag queens Victoria Fox, Penny Tration, Tywoo, Lil’ Kim Chi and Valerie Love and drag king Alexander Cameron, all embodying glamor while advocating for gender-inclusivity.

The show is all made possible by K-State’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance, LGBT Resource Center, Student Governing Association and Union Program Council.

Julia Coverdale, SAGA President, said the drag performers show people ways to play with gender and how the queer community can express themselves through art and performance. 

“I hope this shows students how you can mess [with] the way you look and how you identify,” Coverdale said. “I hope they gain insight into what’s being displayed by the media, our legislature and even what’s happening on campus.”

Coverdale said the Annual K-State Drag Show is an eye-opening experience for people who haven’t previously been exposed to drag.

“So much of what people are shown of drag is a limited selection chosen to spread hatefulness in the world,” Coverdale said. “I wish more people knew the true beauty of drag and found community in it.”

The show ended with a performance of “What Makes a Man, a Man,” performed by Moree.  Starting on stage as Moree, the performer transformed into Garner-Carpenter throughout the course of the song. The song is about a drag queen, and the performance was a powerful demonstration of gender fluidity challenging the audience to rethink what they know about gender.

“It’s corny to say, but we’re all just human,” Grace Legg, senior in animal science and industry, said. “It’s performances like this that break through those stigmas for the people that need to be reminded.”

Legg attended the show with her friend, Annika Dains, who said this was one of the most emotionally impactful shows they’ve ever seen.

“I hope the show helps to show people not to fear what’s different from you,” Dains said. “Embrace the differences.”

While the drag show has passed, drag at K-State is far from over. SAGA is putting on an amateur drag show at 7 p.m. on March 3 at the Frith Community Center. The opportunity to perform is open to all, and further information on performance sign-ups can be found on SAGA’s Instagram @kstatesaga.

“Take up space,” Moree said, shortly before her last performance. “Educate yourself to make the world you want to live in. Make your noise.”

To learn more about the LGBT Resource Center or donate, check out its website