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Drag ball kicks off Pride Week

KIRBY DAVIS
Drag performers Lana del Gay (left) and Artemis Cardiac (right) took the stage on Monday for UNI Proud's annual Drag Ball.

SHELBY WELSCH, Staff Writer

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Pride Week is in full gear, and UNI Proud has planned a week full of activities that celebrate equality and love

This year’s theme for Pride Week is “All You Need is Love,” which UNI Proud President Ella Daft sees as a great representation of the UNI community.

Daft said the progress that the university has made reflects UNI’s unofficial moniker as the “University of Nothing Impossible.”

Pride Week kicked off with their annual Drag Ball on Monday, April 3. According to Daft, there were a range of talents, including students, faculty and even professionals. The performers practiced extensively beforehand, and Daft felt they were extremely prepared for the event.

In addition, the ball had a new location this year. In the past, it had taken place in the Maucker Union ballrooms, but this was the first year it was held elsewhere.

“This is the first year we have had Drag Ball in Lang’s Auditorium,” Daft said. “We are excited for the new experience.”

The night kicked off with an act by Luna, who rocked out two performances. Luna danced to Wicked’s “What is This Feeling?” and “Q.U.E.E.N” by Janelle Monae.

After that, Paris a la Grande performed “End of Time” by Beyonce and “Take me Home” by Jess Glynne. Next up on the lineup was Alex Gayskarth, who shook his booty to “YOUTH” by Troye Sivan and “Victorious” by Panic! At the Disco.

Chloe De Paris slowed things down for the audience and showed off some sensuous dance moves to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman” and “He Proposed” by Kelly Price. Next, one of the Masters of Ceremonies, Artemis Cardiac, showcased two Lady Gaga songs, “Joanne” and “Artpop.”

After that, the Resh Prince came out and wowed the audience by dancing to “Death of a Bachelor” by Panic! At the Disco and “Chickni Chameli” by Agneepath. Up next, the other Master of Ceremonies, Lana del Gay, danced to “Hard Out Here” by Lily Allen and “Blue Jeans” by Lana Del Rey.

Lastly, Lady Xa Xa blew the crowd away with two vocal performances, “Wonder” by Natalie Merchant and “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. Lady Xa Xa was the only performer to actually sing her songs, and she received a standing ovation after singing “Beautiful.”

Brody Hall, sophomore communications major, said that he found Lady Xa Xa’s performance to be very moving, and it made him realize how supportive the LGBTQ community truly is.

“I think it was wonderful that there was a standing ovation for individuals using drag as an artistic expression,” Hall said. “There is so much support all around.”

Another audience member, senior leisure, youth and human services major Gabby White, felt that despite UNI’s small LGBTQ community in comparison to other big schools in Iowa, the drag show went quite well. She also commented on the support that shined through the performances.

“The show was very energetic and fun, and I think it was a great way to get people excited about the rest of Pride Week,” White said. “You could tell that the participants were very close and supportive of each other.”

Although the event was free of charge, the performers accepted tips and donations from audience members who were enjoying their time at the show. All tips were donated to the Cedar AIDS Support System, an organization that provides confidential assistance and support to those who are diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in the Cedar Valley.

Hall thought the idea of donating to this cause was extremely heartwarming.

“The Cedar AIDS Support System is definitely a good cause that has positively influenced the LGBT community over the years,” Hall said.

There will be many other events throughout Pride Week including a film screening of the documentary “Gen Silent” tonight and a “Progressive Prom” dance on Friday. Daft encouraged every UNI student to join the LGBTQ community at these events.

“[Pride Week] allows us to take a moment and enjoy the progress we have made, while still looking forward to the work that still needs to be done,” Daft said.

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Drag ball kicks off Pride Week