UC Santa Barbara’s eighth annual Pride Week kicked off on Mon., April 8, bringing UCSB students and faculty together for a week of events, workshops, and performances in celebration of the campus’s LGBTQ+ community.
The Associated Students Queer Commission (QComm), an on-campus advocacy group which provides funding and support for UCSB’s LGBTQ+ community, hosted this year’s events. Ricky Uribe and Rafael Cornejo, the co-chairs of QComm’s Pride committee, were the driving forces behind this year’s Pride Week.
QComm hosted 13 events over the course of the week, including a voguing competition, fashion show, and BDSM workshop. Each event related to the central theme of this year’s Pride Week, “My Existence is Resistance,” and exhibited the spirit and unwavering resilience of UCSB’s LGBTQ+ community.
“We’re showing that we are proud to be ourselves … despite every single adversity that we’ve had to face and we still face,” said Uribe during an interview with The Bottom Line.
The most popular event of this year’s Pride Week was undoubtedly the Pride Week Drag Show, which ran from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Thursday night. The sold-out show featured 16 student performers and a highly anticipated appearance by Trixie Mattel, the third season winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars.
Student drag performances ranged from dancing and lip-syncing to live singing and stand-up comedy. The crowd was particularly excited for a lip-sync performance by Maddy Mokes, a UCSB student who was selected to be Santa Barbara’s Queen of Pride in 2017.
The drag show concluded with a half hour of stand-up comedy and acoustic folk music by special guest Trixie Mattel. Mattel’s performance of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” was particularly popular with the crowd, as were her scathing jokes and critiques of the current presidential administration.
Uribe attributes the drag show’s consistent popularity to an increasing interest in television programs like RuPaul’s Drag Race, which have made drag culture and performance more visible to the general public. Uribe hopes that students’ interest in drag shows and LGBTQ+ culture will eventually extend to the other Pride Week events in the future.
“Once queer culture starts getting noticed by more people, then our other shows will get as big as the drag show,” said Uribe.
Another popular event this week was the QComm Pride Carnival, which took place on Saturday in Isla Vista’s People’s Park. The event was open to all, including non-student residents of IV, and lasted from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The carnival offered a host of free activities, including a “Drag Me Up” photo booth, face painting station, and inflatable bounce houses. According to Cornejo, the purpose of the carnival was to provide LGBTQ+ community members with a safe space to have fun, interact with others, and celebrate LGBTQ+ activism.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere for people to engage in a space that is safe for them, where they feel comfortable, and where they can express who they are,” said Cornejo.
While most of Pride Week events took place on UCSB’s campus, Saturday’s Pride Carnival was held in I.V. According to Cornejo, the public venue was intentionally chosen to expand Pride Week beyond the borders of UCSB.
“Within I.V, there’s not enough visibility,” said Cornejo. “People aren’t noticed. They don’t realize there’s an LGBTQ community outside of I.V. So that’s part of the reason why we have the carnival in I.V.”
Pride Week 2018 concluded on Sun., April 15, and will return to UCSB next year during the second week of spring quarter.