The "Annual Drag Show" on the USD campus has been in production for six consecutive years now, with each year bringing forth a new wave of creative performers and excited audiences.

For many, the Drag Show acts as an opportunity for one to celebrate and showcase gender expression in a non-conventional form by emphasizing the individuality that floods the campus every day. It contributes to the university’s true diversity and uniqueness as it goes past superficial stereotypes by displaying ethnic variety and diversity.

Drag show partners with Pride

The Drag Show annually partners with USD Pride, a campus organization of undergraduate students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, pansexual and other identities and/or allies of the LGBTQ community.

They meet weekly during the academic year for social support and event planning. PRIDE’s faculty advisor and the most continuously involved leader of the Drag Show’s execution, Evelyn Kirkley, believes that it is imperative that we have this event on campus. She believes that the Drag Show offers students, primarily those who are at risk of being alienated or otherwise ostracized for their sexual identity, a place on campus where acceptance flourishes.

Performers and audience members alike can bask in the unconditional love that warms USD's Shiley Theatre.

Henry*, an SDS V and VI participant, describes his experience as overwhelmingly positive and affirms the sense of community that is sustained at this event. Like Kirkley, he believes that SDS’s importance on campus is vital in fostering diversity on campus in new ways by educating students about gender expression.

He feels that it also develops a presence and feeling of value for students who identify as queer (an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual or don’t identify with the gender they were given at birth).

Support and positivity on campus

Although a sense of support and positivity surrounds SDS, it has not always been that way.

Instituting the first annual Drag Show at USD was made difficult through various protests, country-wide petitions, and even threats made by donors to pull funding from the entire university. Henry says he has witnessed acts of protests but remains unwavering in his decision to contribute to SDS, describing the main response to his participation as “overwhelming support and love” from family, friends, and the USD faculty.

Kirkley and Henry, along with the numerous participants and audience members over the years, applaud the perseverance of past and present students, faculty, and alumni who have put in the time and effort to ensure the existence and success of the annual Drag Show that has sold out every year since.

Their dedication to progressing the representation and acceptance of various exhibitions of gender expression allow USD students an opportunity to experience a true Drag Show that showcases their fellow classmates. Henry, whose stage name this year was “Dee Zastris,” prepared by first building his performance around a story. Through the fun 70’s vibes of ABBA, Henry choreographed dance moves to coincide with a story that revolved around taking a chance and realizing his full potential. The ability for one to creatively implement ideas into different forms of self-expression, and then to subsequently share with an enthusiastic audience, is what SDS strives to achieve.

Despite the various challenges that have faced the 'Supreme Drag Superstar Show,' the dedication of the USD community in implementing this display of our campus’ unique diversity has continually created an atmosphere where individuality is foundational to the culture of the University of San Diego.

There is no better exemplifier of this than Kirkley’s closing remark on her experience: “It’s normal, it’s fine, and it’s totally wonderful.”

*Some names have been changed to protect individual privacy.