Symphony of support: Supreme Drag Star, round 2 USD PRIDE’s Drag Show brings controversy to campus, and outcries of support for those being protested against

By Jay Muller

Last Thursday, April 25 in the Shiley Theatre, Manila Luzon, Max BiManly, Action Big Daddy Jackson, Marisela Maravillosa, Señor Elvis, Brett & Kevin, Amber Alert and Madge Matronic were bold and courageous, expressing their alternative gender identities at the second annual Supreme Drag Superstar, hosted by USD PRIDE.

These eclectic students walk around campus with their heads held high as they sport Day of Silence shirts. They shout their support of the LGBTQ community via their Facebook profile pictures. And, in a leap of faith, cross-dress in front an audience of supporters, cheerleaders and loving friends.

Much controversy has been centered on this issue here on campus and in Charles Limandri, an alumnus of the university and founder of the organization Alumni for a Catholic USD.

On April 19, Limandri addressed his primary concern for Supreme Drag Superstar in a letter to USD President Mary Lyons.

“Simply stated,” said Limandri, “a Drag Contest is inconsistent with the proper mission and purpose of a Catholic University.”

A devout believer in the anti-homosexual stance of the Catholic Church can reference Genesis 19:1-11, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:18-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-10 for evidence of the Bible’s condemnation for homosexuality.

If we take these word for word and apply a literal interpretation, then why do we not execute an individual who swear at their parents when Exodus 21:17 states, “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” Why don’t we follow through with terminating the lives of those who “wear material woven of two kinds of material,” or “plant [the] field with two kinds of seed” (Leviticus 19:19)?

It is as though we conveniently search for phrases that we want to take literally, and ignore those others that do not appeal to our liking. In 1863, the Bible was used to support slavery. In the 1960’s, the Bible was used to support racial discrimination. Now, in 2013, it is being used to support discrimination against homosexuality.

However, faith in interpreting those verses literally has been abandoned, as they do not fit the situation of contemporary society.

The usage of these verses is nothing more than biblical convenience.

USD’s mission is clearly stated is clearly explained in its mission statement:

“The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic institution committed to advancing academic excellence, expanding liberal and professional knowledge, creating a diverse and inclusive community, and preparing leaders dedicated to ethical conduct and compassionate service.”

Supreme Drag Superstar fulfilled that mission to the fullest. The presentation educated the audience on the LGBTQ community and specifically gender expression, facilitated more widespread acceptance and understanding of queers, and generally contributed to greater compassion while being in line with the ethics of social justice for all on a changemaker campus.

Where do we stand as a community though in our perceptions of the event?

We can focus on the seven protesters standing in front of our campus entrance hoisting fallacious arguments about why individuals can’t express their identity.

Or, we can focus on the beauty of this entertainment-education.

We can write about the grandiose security measures that were taken to respond to continuous complaints, possible threats and negative energy emanating. Or, we can write of the smiles on the performers faces as they sang their hearts out and danced their night away.

Lets rewind to 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a place where, “…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
King didn’t dream of a day of violent action, mass uprisings or reciprocal hatred. We don’t remember his speech as a riveting rally calling for the overthrow of the system.

Rather, we the people of this great nation who stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness picture that wide-angle shot of the Lincoln Memorial. In that iconic snapshot, we can see hundreds of thousands of supports from all ethnicities, religions and backgrounds adjoining joining hand-in-hand to rise in support of the marginalized.

Today, let us do the same. As USD students walked out of the theater, their surroundings became flooded with vibrations of praise and support. It was infectious, as the joy from the event radiated throughout the room. The same love was spread on social media in the hours leading up to the event, and surely in those following. In the coming hours and days, we have seen a blossoming support for USD PRIDE. We will rejoice together in yet another breakthrough on our campus.

It is quite evident that, together, as a campus, we have made progress from this event. As allies of the LGBTQ community, our student body came out on top. Without responding with counter-hate or reciprocal attacks, PRIDE simply pursued their goal for a peaceful celebration of gender expression. Taking an event that maxed-out at 200 audience members last year in the miniscule forum of the back of the UC, to a jam packed Shiley theater holding 500-550 students, the movement made its footprint in history on April 25.

Hopefully, a time is ahead of us when judgment isn’t passed on an individual’s orientation, expression or identity.

We have made continuous attempts to eliminate hateful vocabulary or discourse towards African-Americans, feminists, and the physically or mentally disabled. That theme has shifted.

It is now the time for the LGBTQ to make their mark on society. Spring boarded by Harvey Milk’s election to office, we now have seven LGBTQ representatives in congress. Homosexual couples now have their own television series, such as Modern Family.

And, courses are now being offered at prominent universities integrating the topic into the liberal arts and even business studies.

One can lead the charge, but it’s the community that really makes the difference. It’s not one pop of the hands that signifies success – it’s rather the symphony.

We came together Thursday as a community to commemorate the progress made thus far by the proud LGBTQ identifiers, and to support its future on our campus at the University of San Diego.

The love that was emitted in the theater reminded me of the good still present in humanity, the hope that one day people will be accepted for all they are, and the gravitational force that love has to pull us all together for the common good.
I can only imagine what is next.