Org makes IMPACT: UW-Whitewater LGBT* & Allies organization hosts 6th Anual Drag Show, participates in Pride Week

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April 1, 2015

By Alexandria Zamecnik

 

Jada Hall glides down the catwalk

Jada Hall glides down the catwalk

 

When host of the 6th Annual UW-Whitewater Drag Show, Vivian Storm, announced the first performer to the catwalk, timid cheers could be heard throughout the Hamilton Room. The quiet cheers quickly turned into loud roars when Jaida Hall glided across the stage in gold pumps and an all gold sequined jumper.

Hall, a six-time returner to the show, was just one of the Queens and Kings who came to perform at the annual show put on by IMPACT. The list included seasoned performers, returners and even a UW-W graduate, Devin aka Jazzal.

IMPACT sold more than 175 tickets to UW-W students, faculty, staff and public. The Drag Show serves as a major source of funding for a conference the organization attends every year, The Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Ally College Conference or MBLGTACC.

“We use the proceeds from that show to fund that,” president of IMPACT Ban Ahmed said. “It’s a really good mixture of learning experiences and fun for a lot of students. It’s a really powerful thing for our members to experience.”

With the help of Alpha Sigma Phi, more than 50 UW-W students volunteered to staff carnival games where guests could play games to win prizes.

David Kroeze, president of Alpha Sigma Phi, said amazing work is being done at UW-W in relation to the LGBT community, but the work is never over.

“There is always more that can be done,” Kroeze said. “That is why Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity is uncompromisingly grateful for the encouragement we have received from the campus, and we hope to build off of this experience to not only demonstrate that Greeks care about their community, but also that we will never stop supporting the LGBT* community.”

Kroeze said he expected for there to be games, performers on the stage and then call it wrap. Instead the experience blew his expectations out of the water.

“I can safely say that [Alpha Sigma Phi] cannot wait to attend the show again next year,” Kroeze said.

Kroeze wasn’t the only one to have a good time, Ahmed said IMPACT received some really good feedback after the show.

“I talked to a few students that had never been to a drag show before, and they said it was much more enjoyable than they had anticipated,” Ahmed said. “A few students also mentioned they had not originally planned to stay until the end, but they didn’t want to miss it.”

Students at UW-W have another chance to get involed with IMPACT during Pride Week. Pride Week is a recognition of all LGBT* people and allies, put on the PB Poorman Pride Center.

The week starting on April 6 has different events meant to increase student awareness and knowledge of the LGBT* community, including “Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Speaker Rob Smith,” “Marriage Equality Rountadble Discussion” and “LGBT* and Ally Student Roundtable Discussion.”

Cherish Golden, social coordinator for IMPACT and PB Poorman Pride Center intern helped plan the Rob Smith event.

“Rob Smith is a black, gay Iraq war veteran,” Golden said. “He’s an author and a journalist now. He’s important because he served in the military while “don’t ask, don’t tell” was in effect, which was a policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly.”
After Smith time was up in the army, he decided not to reenlist. Instead, he embarked on a journey with others to try and end the act.

Smith was later a guest of President Barack Obama at the ceremony which repealed the law.

“I feel like he’s important because of his racial idenity, sexuality and he’s a veteran,” Golden said. “All of those intersecting identies can really reach a lot of people.”

Cindy Konrad, LGBT Coordinator at UW-W said IMPACT saw Smith at the MBLGTACC  conference and they decided his message was so powerful that he needed to come to campus.  MBLGTACC is the same conference the funds from the Drag Show go to.

At the Marriage Equality Roundtable Discussion, Judith Trampf and Katharina Heyning will speak. Heyning and Trampf are both employees at UW-W and were among four couples who filed a lawsuit aiming to lift Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage.

“It’s really exciting to be able to hear their story,” Konrad said. “They’ve been in the news… We really wanted the chance for the whole campus to hear their story.”

Konrad said that more and more people’s lives, even if they don’t belong to the LGBT* community, are touched by LGBT issues like Heynings’ and Trampfs’ every day.

“I just spoke at a class a couple weeks ago, and I started by asking the students what they know about LGBT people’s experiences and everyones hands went up,” Konrad said. “Almost everyone said they have a friend, cousin, brother or aunt. LGBT people are part of the broader community and what touches us, touches other people’s lives.”

The LGBT* and Ally Student Rountable Discussion will give a chance for student panelists to share those experiences they have on campus and in the world.

“Pride Week is a good opportunity for the LGBT community on campus to share our stories,” Konrad said.

Rob Smith will speak at 6:30 p.m. on April 7 in the UC Hamilton Room. The marriage roundtable is at 12 p.m. on April 8 in UC 259. The LGBT* and Ally Student Roundtable Discussion is at 12 p.m. on April 9 in the Warhawk Connection Center. All events are free.

Students can get more information by emailing Cindy Konrad at [email protected]