The 15th annual K-State Drag Show Friday raised more than tripled the cash it did last year
The money covers mental health services and scholarships for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.
Host Monica Moree dedicated the song, “Love Wins” by Carrie Underwood to raise money from the audience for the cause. Hands filled with cash flew up for tip runners to collect throughout the packed hall in McCain Auditorium.
With some audience donors and Moree’s workplace matching donations, the show raised $10,000, beating last year’s $3,000.
“Because of all those generous donations from this show and throughout the year (to the LGBT Foundation), we have been able to provide counseling services and mental health care for trans-identifying students at no cost,” she said. “The only thanks that we need (from students who benefit from the services) is that you become the most beautiful amazing person you can be. I want you to leave this place and not say, ‘I survived, but I blossomed at K-State.’”
Between lip-synced dance numbers, flowing sequined outfits and comic jabs, Moree pointed out all the work it had taken to give LGBT students a supportive space at K-State. When she was a student, Moree said she met with Pat Bosco about how to start a resource center. Bosco directed her to the provost’s office of diversity so she could learn how to write a grant to raise money. Moree said someone from the office told her they didn’t believe Moree should be at the school as she had “chosen” to be gay.
Discouraged, Moree said she reported back to Bosco, but instead he insisted she write the grant anyway, telling her, “Life is going to give you people that treat you awful and you have to continue doing work for the greater good.”
Because of that persistence, the LGBT Resource Center at K-State opened its doors in 2010 to support and educate students, staff, faculty and community members.
Starla Nyte, who co-hosted the pre-show with Allie Monet and performed her own piece during the show, said the show helps educate people about the LGBT community and serves as its own central place in Kansas for people to express themselves. She said acceptance toward the community has improved since she was younger, but there are still strides to be made.
“I think the community has come a long way,” Nyte said. “I remember 10 years ago I probably would not have walked up and down in drag after this... but nowadays, (queens) Kim Chi, Victoria, Valaree, they’ll once in a while go out to Aggieville, and I think that’s amazing that people are going to allow them to express themselves and be who they want to be.
“When I was in high school here (at Manhattan High School), we were working, we were pushing, we were shoving,” Nyte said. “We were doing protests for things every other week or something like the living ordinances in town. I feel like those things have really finally caught up. We did a lot of that grunt work years ago and I feel like it’s at its peak, but I still feel like there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Jakki Mattson, show assistant, said although the LGBT community still faces discrimination, the response to that discrimination now results in more positive steps toward action. Mattson said the show has drawn such a large audience throughout the years that its message is able to reach both the new and old, something she looked forward to each year.
“I always like to see how the audience responds because the audience every year is such a unique mixture of people,” Mattson said. “It’s always a mixture of new people who have never been to a drag show to people who have gone to every K-State drag show to people who go and support local drag. I also like to see how much money the community can bring into scholarship funds and bring back to the LGBT community. It’s really amazing to see the community come together for our community.”