The Queer Student Union held its Drag Bingo event Sunday afternoon in Newcomb Ballroom.
Members of the University community were entertained by performers while they played rounds of bingo for the chance to win prizes donated by local businesses.
The purpose of the event is two-fold, said Jack Chellman, QSU’s vice president of community engagement.
“This is QSU’s primary fundraiser for the semester,” the second-year College student said. “It’s also a way to bring queer culture to U.Va., remind people that we’re here and let them experience drag, which might be something they wouldn’t experience otherwise.”
Attending the event may be an eye-opening experience for some, fourth-year College student Connor Roessler, QSU’s vice president of education, said.
“A lot of people might think, ‘Wow, that’s really different. That’s really awesome. I want to know more about that,’” Roessler said.
Roessler, who has performed in Drag Bingo events since he was a first year, said dressing in drag is like playing with societal definitions of masculinity and femininity.
“To me, it’s showing people a mirror of what masculinity or femininity is to society and taking that to the max,” Roessler said. “I like to do this — it’s fun, exuberant and out there, but it also makes people think a little bit like, ‘Wow, we do tell women they should shave their bodies, wear this much makeup and wear high heels.’”
College graduate student Alexi Garrett, a teaching assistant for Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies and attendee, said she came to support some of her students. She also spoke of drag as a way to reflect identity and societal expectations about gender.
“The first thing that comes to mind is Judith Butler’s work ‘Gender Trouble,’” Garrett said. “She talks about drag as parodying identity. Her theory is saying that gender is socially constructed, and drag shows us that.”
Many of the performers take inspiration for their appearances from pop culture icons, said Roessler. Roessler himself looks to people like Kesha, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj, whereas the Drag Bingo host Austin Gilstrap, a Virginia Commonwealth University student who goes by stage name Stacy Max, loves to imitate Beyoncé.
Preparation for the actual event is labor-intensive, Roessler said.
“The day of, you have to shave your whole body, make sure that your makeup is right, get your outfit together, make sure you have a good song choice and practice a bit so you don’t get out there and stumble,” Roessler said. “It’s a lot of work.”
The hard work pays off though, he said.
“All of my friends really love it,” Roessler said. “I’m in a great, supportive community.”