After the COVID-19 pandemic put one of UM’s most anticipated and electrifying events on pause, SpectrUM’s DragOut drag show has come back in full swing for its ninth annual performance.
The production was held on Thursday, March 10 in the Shalala Ballroom where it has been held in previous years.
“Last year, we did it on Zoom and that wasn’t as much of a turnout as we wanted,” said Jarret Lord, a junior nursing major who serves as PR Chair for SpectrUM. “This has been such an amazing feeling to get something this big going for once.”
Several professional performers returned to DragOut, including Spikey van Dykey, CC Glitzer and Tiffany Fantasia, who hosted the affair.
Along with the professional drag queens and kings that strut their stuff, many students performed themselves, with everything from drag performances to ABBA and Britney Spears all the way to student bands debuting their original songs.
“This has definitely been nuts because we haven’t had a single member of our e-board do an in-person DragOut before,” Lord said. “Most people here are also students, so it’s a lot of them volunteering and putting in their own time.”
There was also a panel of judges for the night deciding on the best act of the night.
The judges included Barbara Hoffmann, a lecturer in the English department, Claire Oueslati-Porter, the director of the gender and sexuality studies program, Dr. Andrew Porter, assistant professor in public health and Dr. John Clochesy, a professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.
Feminist Flight Club and Mary Poppers were selected as the student winners of the night.
Cash tips were also encouraged to be given at the event. All proceeds from the event will benefit SAGE, a charity organization dedicated to advocacy and services for LGBTQ+ elders.
“Each year the proceeds that SpectrUM gets from sponsorships and the tips they get from the show, they choose a local charity in Miami for them to go to,” said Vanessa Kania, SpectrUM’s advisor and assistant director of the LGBTQ Student Center.
“It’s a super fun night and the money goes to a good place, so it’s definitely worthwhile to attend,” Kania continued.
In anticipation of the main performance night, there was also a panel held with the professional drag performers the day before on Wednesday, March 9.
At the panel, the professional drag performers discussed how they got into drag and their experiences as performers, especially in the greater Miami community.
“The panel was more of an intimate discussion whereas DragOut is like the glitz and the glam,” Kania said. “It was definitely cool to have that separate event, and tonight’s really the main attraction.”
Underlying the event was also the passing of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by the Florida Senate on Tuesday, March 8, furthering the development of a bill that has garnered severe backlash from the LGBTQ+ community.
Despite the uproar it has caused, SpectrUM’s organizers were still eager to celebrate queerness at the evening’s display.
“It’s kind of bittersweet in a context,” Lord said. “I really hate that the bill even made it as far as it did. But at the same time, this is showing that we are not going to sit down and we are not going to take it.”