UCSB Students Strike a Pose at Annual Pride Week

Photo by Samuel Yang | Staff Photographer

Vanessa Su
Staff Writer

Celebrating UCSB’s ninth annual Pride Week, the Queer Commission at UCSB hosted a variety of events from a student-run fashion show at Corwin Pavilion to a workout camp at the university Recreation Center during the week of April 7–12. To wrap up the eventful week, the Queer Commission hosted its popular Pride Drag Show on the night of April 11, showcasing many electrifying acts from student and local drag performers.

Queer Commission is a group under Associated Students that was formed in the school year of 2007-2008 and has served as a representative body for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) students on campus.

A popular tradition of Pride Week is the Pride Drag Show, which was held in Campbell Hall. This year, the drag show contained a mix of local drag queens and kings, student drag queens and kings, and even guest appearances from queer rapper Aja and Tatianna from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.”

Finishing sixth place on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Tatianna hails from Virginia and started doing drag in 2007. A proud icon for young audiences exploring their sexualities and gender identities as well as drag, she continues to perform drag and has even performed with Charli XCX for Charli’s song “1999.”

Also a past participant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Aja was raised in Brooklyn, New York City and started drag when they were 16 and participated in multiple drag contests. After their fair share of drag shows, they decided to transition to music and eventually released a debut EP titled “In my Feelings” in May 2018 and recently came out with their debut studio album called “Box Office” in Feb. 2019.

A campus building commonly used to hold AS Program Board events, Campbell Hall was an ideal setting for the sold-out drag show as students were given comfortable seating and adequate aisle space as they enjoyed the show. As the students waited in line to enter the venue, it was obvious many had been looking forward to the show as they clutched dollar bills, waiting to throw them at their favorite performers or friends that they were there to cheer on.

The show was hosted by a cheery Maddy Mokes — Santa Barbara’s Queen of Pride in 2017 — who brought an infectious energy that had the crowd standing on their feet and cheering. The show’s lineup consisted of performances from Vivan Storm, Coco D. Baucherry, Maddy Mokes, Kandy Apple, Gaia Genesis, King Karluh, Moose Velvet, Jenni Baby, Tatianna, Eris Heiress, Glitter, Sara Tonin, Ella Devil, Penile Fauna, Professor Cunnilingus, Doniana, Levi Divine, Sarelia Rouge, Rogue, and Aja.

Using popular songs from iconic artists like Queen and Whitney Houston, the performers gave it their all while on the stage and vibrantly depicted the feelings of pride and happiness connected to being open about their gender identities and sexualities. The crowd’s joyful and elated cheering gave the show a heartwarming energy as students threw cash at the performers and hollered support for the drag queens and kings.

Overall, the Drag Show truly showed a refreshing side of UCSB as the electrifying performers strutted and prowled on the stage with the supportive hoots of their peers in the audience. This big event was intended to bring awareness of the LBTQI students and staff on campus, which highlights the meaning behind Pride Week and promotes a message of support and awareness towards the LBTQI population on campus and around the world.