UWL hosts the 20th Annual Drag and Art Show – The Racquet Press – cialisdfr
UWL hosts the 20th Annual Drag and Art Show – The Racquet Press
UWL hosts the 20th Annual Drag and Art Show – The Racquet Press


The performers applaud Pride Center Director Will Van Rosenbeek.

On Saturday, March 23, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Pride Center held its 20th annual Drag and Art Show. The Pride Center’s vision statement “aims to affirm, include and celebrate people across the spectrum of gender identity, gender expression, sexual and romantic attraction, and to include the intersectional experiences, perspectives, identities and needs of LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff .” The drag show is a space where students, staff, faculty and community members can come together to celebrate and raise funds for the LGBTQIA+ community at UWL.

This year’s drag show was hosted by professional Drag Queen Dee Dee Purr, a former UWL student. Purr began performing drag in 2013/2014 at UWL during the annual Pride Center show. Purr is now a professional drag queen in Madison, Wisconsin. Additionally, Purr won the FI 2023 Wisconsin Artist of the Year.

La Crosse will host the 2024 Artist of the Year competition at The Main on April 13. At this event, Purr will pass on his crown to the next winner. The contestants include three former RuPaul Drag Race contestants: Trinity the Tuck, Mercedes Iman Diamond and Anastarzia Anaquway.

This year’s show had a total of 19 acts, including students, staff, faculty and professional drag queens. The three professional drag queens and UWL alumni were Dee Dee Purr, Freya Feenix and Adelaide. The show featured the 19 acts, door prizes and a UWL student art show during intermission.

Each year, all tips received at the show are pooled to provide scholarships for LGBTQIA+ students at UWL. The Pride Center had hoped to raise $3,000 during this year’s show, but fell short with a final tally of $2,901.53. After the event, Pride Center director Willem Van Roosenbeek said: “[The Pride Center] should reach $3,000 with online donations.”

The Racquet Press spoke with two of the student performers after the show to ask them about their experience. “Father Mother”, a UWL student performed for the second year in a row. Father Mother said, “[The Pride Center and drag show] is everything to me. I was thinking about this drag show from last year’s drag show; I’ve been excited ever since.”

A first-time artist, Riot said, “I was considering doing [the drag show] my first year, but I was like “no, I won’t; it’s a lot of pressure and I don’t know what I would do,’ but actually Mom and Dad inspired me more because I’ve been friends with them for a while.”

Both students spoke about the importance of the Pride Center to them and what the Drag Show means to them. Father Maika said: “For a lot of people, it’s their first time in drag and their first time being able to express their gender in a space like this, so I think it’s a really good thing for the campus.”

“The drag show is absolutely phenomenal and I love every second of it,” said Riot. “The Pride Center means a lot. It’s really nice to know there’s a place on campus where I can just be myself, especially in the political climate.”

Host Poor and Van Rosenbeek spoke about the growing tensions and legislation against the LGBTQIA+ community and transgender people in the United States, and both encouraged the audience to vote in the upcoming election.

“Thank you for making tonight a safe place for all artists and helping us create an environment that is truly loving and caring. We need you to keep talking, all of you. This is a terrible time in our country and I hope you felt the love tonight and continue to spread it,” Van Rosenbeek said.

He continued: “We have a beautiful queer family here at UWL, something I don’t know other schools have and I just want to thank all those queer people who are there and are part of that family.”

You can find more information about the Pride Center here.

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