Inside #DragForSwag: A night of glamour and purpose 

Stepping into the Edge’s foyer on the 25th of March, I was immediately enveloped by an atmosphere of electrifying energy and upbeat music. From the moment the spotlights illuminated the stage to the final applause that reverberated through the room, it was clear that this was unlike anything I had ever witnessed—an incredible drag show hosted by Remy Melee, a talented DJ, graphic designer and drag performer. 

Setting the stage: An Overview of the event – 

The event, organised by the LGBT+ group, was a resounding success. The packed venue was not just a space but a vibrant community buzzing with excitement and anticipation. The show kicked off with a warm introduction of the esteemed panel of judges, which included Sophie Madison, the chair of Kaleidoscope, the staff and PGR LGBT+ group; Amber Snary, SU Education Officer; and Ishita Khattar, the Social Secretary of the LGBT+ group. In the beginning, a quiz was held as an interactive element of the show, which tested the audience’s knowledge of both historical milestones and iconic pop culture moments significant to the queer community. Laughter and friendly competition filled the air as the attendees tried to answer the questions enthusiastically.

After the quiz concluded, Remy ushered in the main attraction of the evening – an impressive lineup of drag performances by three amazing contestants – En Titty, Izzie Iman and Kiki Riku.

Izzie Iman, dressed in elaborate gothic attire which was one of their own creations, portrayed the Unknown, a character devised by the organizers of an unsuccessful Willy Wonka Experience held in Glasgow in February. They also incorporated a huge cutout of Timothée Chalamet in the performance, a supposed reference to his film Wonka, which is based on Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

En Titty performed the song ‘Bust Your Knee Caps’ by Pomplamoose, adopting the persona of the singer – a violent and psychotic girlfriend who belongs to a mob family. The song talks about how she tried to warn her boyfriend about her family’s lethal intentions if he dared to leave her. In the act, En Titty continuously revealed hidden weapons, playfully threatening the audience as if they were the boyfriend. 

KiKi Riku, the final entrant, captivated the audience with their thrilling dance performance, which consisted of intricate footwork and impressive splits. Dancing to hit songs by Doja Cat and Kim Petras, I particularly loved their sleek, black-on-black monochromatic ensemble, which featured a long-sleeve top, leather pants, and bold eye makeup. 

For the grand finale, all the contestants lip-synced and performed to the song ‘I’m Just Ken’ from the movie Barbie, vying for the opportunity to perform at Campus Pride and win a £40 voucher. Once the judges finished tallying their scores, amidst thunderous applause, Remy announced Kiki Riku as the triumphant winner of the drag competition. 

I got a chance to speak to Remy backstage. When asked about the performances, Remy commented, “I said to the performers after they had all performed that I obviously wasn’t expecting them to be terrible, but I wasn’t expecting them to be as good as they were. They were all spectacular. All so different as well. And that’s what’s so great about drag: everyone’s got their unique take on it. Everyone’s got their own story to tell. I was just so impressed with the level of performance.” 

Drag for Change: The Gender Expression Fund – 

The primary motive behind organising this fun and innovative event was to raise money for the recently launched Gender Expression Fund. The Fund will allow gender-nonconforming, non–binary, and trans students to apply for up to £50, which they can use to buy gender-affirming items like binders, cosmetics, and clothing. It is a ‘trust-based scheme’ that will not require individuals to disclose information about their financial situation.  

This initiative can be life-changing for many students as it increases their chances of accessing products and services, enabling them to express their gender identity more confidently. Financial privacy ensures that students can access the funds without sharing personal financial information, which promotes a sense of inclusivity and security for the applicants. Remy described it to be a “crucial resource for trans students.” 

Through ticket sales and donations collected during the event, approximately 285 pounds were raised for the Fund. 

The End

As the night drew to a close, the echoes of applause lingered in the air, a testament to the event’s undeniable success. What began as a celebration of drag artistry became a powerful platform for advocacy. Initiatives like these are a cause of hope, reminding us that through collective effort, we can foster a culture of acceptance within the echelons of higher education institutions. It may also encourage more students to engage with and support the LGBTQ+ community, strengthening solidarity and allyship on campus.

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