‘Diva’ drag queen show seeks to educate about minority causes, anti-bullying
Published: Monday, December 5, 2011
Updated: Monday, December 5, 2011 23:12
Bryan Watkins, Thomas White and Adam Guerra educated and performed in drag to a sold out crowd at Leonard Theatre in Peabody Hall Friday evening. Miami University's Campus Activities Council's Global Fusion board and Spectrum brought Morgan McMichaels (Thomas White), Venus D'Lite (Adam Guerra) and Shannel (Bryan Watkins) as part of Divas of Diversity. The three drag queens were part of RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality show, and now are ambassadors for Hope's Voice. Divas of Diversity is a division of Hope's Voice, a charity advocating educational programs about HIV, the LGTQB community and other minorities. The queens spoke about their coming out stories and being discriminated against for their lifestyle.
Miami is the first campus to have more than one queen perform in one evening. EJ Corporan, co-chair of Global Fusion, found out about Divas of Diversity through a national conference.
"I attended a national student activities conference last year and came across Hope's Voice's booth," Corporan said. "I talked for awhile with the president of the company and fell in love with their Divas of Diversity event. I knew it would be something that could make a significant impact on Miami's campus."
Corporan said the choice of having more than one queen for the event would bring more insight and perspectives for the audience.
Morgan McMichaels, the first to perform, spoke about growing up in Scotland and having little acceptance from her community. McMichaels said her community was not as accepting with sexuality as people are in the United States. She engaged with audience asking members to talk about their experiences of being bullied, whether it was for their weight, sexuality or skin color.
"So when I decided to accept who I was and my sexuality, I took back the power," McMichaels said. "And when people talked about me, I let them talk it because I know who I am."
McMichaels encouraged anyone that sees or hears someone being bullied to stop it or else they are becoming an enabler to the situation.
Shannel also spoke about her childhood and the path that led to her becoming an entertainer.
"I was that fat, shy, quiet, introverted child growing up and it was really sad," Shannel said. "I didn't feel all that quite accepted not because I was the token gay kid but because I was the fat kid."
Shannel spoke about throwing herself into painting, drawing and losing weight at the age of 13. She said her turning point was taking a speech and debate class and beginning to win competitions.
"I thought, ‘wow I have a voice, people are listening to me, I have something to say,'" Shannel said. "So instead of feeling like that fat, horrible, shy, quiet kid, I finally came out of my shell."
She said the media has allowed people to believe others have to be a certain way to be perfect, but they are expectations impossible to live up to.
Venus D'Lite, the last to perform, came onto the stage doing a Madonna impersonation. Venus said she was called names and abused at her school. Coming from a broken family, Venus joined a gang for protection from bullies. But after high school, Venus moved to Hollywood, started dressing like Madonna and had her own drag show for over six years.
"There are many speed bumps in life. There are many obstacles in life. Life is not easy," Venus said. "I had no clue 10 years ago I would be standing her tonight as Madonna doing something I like to do."
After each queen performed, they took the time to answer questions and pose for photos. Corporan said he has heard nothing but positive responses from people that attended. He said people found the speeches inspiring and learned more about how to view themselves and treat others.
Junior Brooke Warren, marketing executive for Spectrum, said she learned from the divas.
"It's so motivating and inspiring to hear about all the obstacles they had to overcome," Warren said. "They brought us a great message about the power of positivity when it comes to bullying and that sometimes life is unfair, but you have to keep pushing through."