Annual drag show to celebrate pride culture

By ALYSSA FOLAND, staff reporter

Makeup, hair and a lot of flare gets Central Washington University students riled up for one of the biggest events of the year: the annual drag show as part of Pride Week on May 30.

Central’s very own Ameena Misdemeanor said she has some great performances in store for the energetic event.

Ahmed Almatrouk, senior English literature major, also known as Ameena Misdemeanor, said he wants to bring the community together for the event because drag culture is so misunderstood and he wants people to understand it.

“I’m trying to include the straight community as well to come to the shows and not feel afraid,” Almatrouk said. “But they misunderstand it for being ‘oh, men dressing up in women’s clothing. Scary.’ So, I’m trying to bring awareness about it.”

Nikki Cook, senior sociology and communications studies major, helped organize the show last year and is working behind the scenes on the event again this year.

Cook has been a member of the student organization EQuAL since her freshman year. The drag show is sponsored by EQuAL and the Center for Diversity and Social Justice. Cook believes that, from attendance alone, people can see how widely needed events like this are.

“It’s definitely an expression of queer culture and I think that’s really important to expose people to and to engage people in,” Cook said.

She said the club does programs all year and nothing gets the kind of attention the drag show gets. They hope to fill the room for Kai Davis, a spoken word performer on Wednesday, May 29. She said it’s just a different experience that people don’t normally get and often times this is the first drag show they’ve been too.

“It’s just exciting and I think it kind of makes people think differently about gender and gender expression and the way we put people in a box all the time,” Cook said.

Cook wants people to see how necessary this event is because it celebrates diversity and breaks down the social stigmas that are created all year round.

Almatrouk said people will sometimes come to the show and not understand and then he will sometimes feel insecure that people think it’s just about dressing up in the opposite genders’ clothing. He said that’s not it at all.

“It is an entertainment idea but it’s definitely an educational piece too,” Cook said. “It’s not just pure entertainment. It’s to showcase and celebrate the queer community and Pride week.”

There will be two returning hosts in this year’s show. Jenuwine Beaute has been a host for all eight years the show has been put on. Aquasha DeLusty has been hosting for about four or five years, and is a Central graduate and local.

“I feel dressing up in drag is a middle finger to society,” Almatrouk said. “I swear to God it’s like the best thing ever because you put down all the social constructions and everything, and it’s just pure fun. It’s so much fun.”

Cook said there is not one event that is small. They are going all out because they are done censoring themselves. She said they are done being silenced.

“It’s all about self expression and acceptance. Whoever you want to be you can be and that’s definitely one of Ahmed’s messages,” said Cook.

Jourdyn Payne, sophomore psychology and family studies major, performed in the amateur drag show last year. She said it was a scary and fun experience, but the drag show was amazing. It was the first drag show she had ever been to and she is going again this year.

“The queens that I met last year are so amazing and they’re so beautiful and I love them,” Payne said. “And so I’m going back to see them again because they’re amazing.”

According to Almatrouk, you don’t make up your own drag name. It’s something your friends do for you. He said back home in Kuwait his friend gave him his first name. After last year’s show, Dr. Leila Abdalla, English literature professor, emailed him about how enjoyable the show was and gave him his last name, Misdemeanor.

Before he graduates at the end of the year, he wants to do something crazy and out of line. He wants to go all out before he goes back home to Kuwait.

“I have people helping me with my makeup. I have people helping me with my hair. I’m queen for the day,” Almatrouk said.

Cook said last year the host discussed her experience of being bullied and that it’s an important message for people to hear. Almatrouk wants students to have a lot of fun, but also to learn that drag culture is more than women dressing as men or men dressing as women.

“Sometimes I’m not quite sure if the campus is ready for it, but we’re done waiting,” Cook said. “We’re done waiting for everyone to be ready for it and if they’re ready or not, here we come.”