Goshen College will be hosting its third annual drag show on Saturday, Feb. 3 in Umble Center. The event will be hosted by Advocates, GC’s LGBTQ+ proponent group, along with support from other affinity groups.

Traditionally, the show includes spirited performances by local drag queens alongside students who volunteer to perform.

The show is still in need of more student performers. To sign up, students can fill out the Google Form linked in the Jan. 19 Communicator, or send an email to advocates@goshen.edu. There will be a drag workshop before the show for those who are interested but inexperienced. 

 Leaders of Advocates this year include Aiden Schloneger, a senior environmental science major; Peace Muhagachi, a junior sociology major; and Karen Guerrero, a senior social work major. Muhagachi performed last year without much preparation.

“I just kind of showed up,” she said. “We were planning the show, and I didn’t even really give it a second thought. I didn’t practice. I just kind of picked a song that I love, you know, Freddie Mercury, and it felt really freeing. It felt like I was just in my room dancing in the mirror and listening to my favorite songs.” 

Schloneger has been involved in the drag show since it first took place during his sophomore year.

“Part of Advocates is to join straight and queer people into a space [where] they can interact in a respectful manner,” he said, “and drag is a great way to do that, because . . . a lot of straight people like drag … if they find themselves in these situations, they know how to be respectful.”

Muhagachi will be performing again this year along with helping to coordinate the show. 

“Drag shows are important,” she said, “because there [are] very few moments in history where queer people have a time to get together and celebrate and enjoy each other’s company.”

Part of educating GC students about drag shows will involve a new tipping system being implemented.

“The queens do it for a living,” Schloneger said, “so it’s respectful to give them money; it’s just part of the culture.”

Paulie Pocket, one of the queens performing this year, mentioned tipping as important, along with keeping distance from the performers unless invited.

“One of the biggest common courtesies,” she said, “is to let the spotlight be on the performers. Do not try to take over the show or get in a performer’s space unless you are invited.”

Other queens this year include GC alum Natosha Salad and Lili J. Extravaganza.

Lili J. has been performing drag for over a decade. She had some initial difficulty breaking into drag, citing “secrets, nits, picks, tips and tricks” that queens have in order to succeed in the industry. These include hundreds of dollars of investment in outfits and wigs. Learning how to do makeup is a particularly involved process.

“When you talk about drag makeup,” she said, “you think of over-the-top; exaggerated; intense.”

Drag has a culture of apprenticeship, characterized by familial terms such as drag mothers, sisters and daughters. Makeup strategies are passed on from “mother” to “daughter,” The practice helps to characterize the queens and serves as a recognition to their predecessors.

“The person I learned from, they would make their brows and their eyeliner connect to make this shape,” Lili J. said. “When I adopted doing my makeup, I too would connect my brow to my eyeliner and create this enclosed makeup look that was characteristic to her, so when I would go on stage it was like, oh, this is obviously Phanta Cee’s drag daughter.”

Getting fake eyebrows to stick on correctly is another challenge, but there is a simple, everyday solution:

“Elmer’s glue sticks help you,” she said, “especially the purple ones; the purple ones are more essential, because you can see where you’re putting it.”

The importance of drag, however, extends far beyond makeup and outfits. Lili J. now identifies as a transgender woman, but this was not always the case.

“Initially,” she said, “drag was my escape from my own sad reality. That’s when I felt craved, when I felt beautiful; I felt amazing . . . Even though I do live my life as a woman, on stage, having that gigantic pink and orange hair and that crazy makeup and those wonderful outfits — it makes me feel powerful, and it makes me feel tall and strong against everything that I faced before, and that’s why I love doing drag.”