by ALYSSA TIPTON & SAMANTHA WALLA, Contributor & Asst. Editor
The Multicultural Center held its inaugural Drag Bingo event on Thursday, April 5 in Kelly Commons at 6 p.m. In collaboration with the LGBTQ Student Group, the Multicultural Center brought two drag queens, Linda Simpson and her assistant Svetlana Stoli, to Manhattan College for a night of bingo.
Before the start of the event, attendees posed in a photo booth, enjoyed pizza and learned about drag from flyers distributed by the LGBTQ Student Group, who also raised money for preventing violence and sexual assault against the LGBTQ community.
The flyers aimed to destigmatize preconceived notions about drag. Drag isn’t just about flamboyant gender-based clothing, but an actual art form that entertains and expresses the queen or king’s identity in an exaggerated fashion. It is also clarified that drag is often confused with those who identify as transgender and while they are a large part of the drag scene, they are not automatically subjected to the style.
The best way to help the LGBTQ community is to get involved and be active in events hosted by the college’s club, as well as just being open minded and willing to have conversations about being true to your identity and equal treatment for all.
Jara Giner, an event coordinator from the Multicultural Center, organized the event after re-pitching the idea which had been neglected from a previous year.
“It’s important to make sure that every student on campus feels welcomed and valued, but not only that, it is also important that every student has the ability to learn about other ways of life,” Giner said. “This event exposed drag to Manhattan College formally for the first time; the event is important to those part of the drag community here on campus to feel love and support from their peers as well as to supply a place where their peers can learn about drag as well.”
The DJ turned down the 90s pop as Hayden Greene, director of the Multicultural Center, took the microphone to introduce the event.
“We want you to be who you are,” said Greene, urging students of all identities to come to future Multicultural Center events. “Our motto is ‘Be brave.’ Come be who you are with us.”
The Multicultural Center can be found on the 3rd floor of Kelly commons and hosts many inclusive events throughout the school year.
After having the participants practice their perfect bingo shout in unison, host Linda Simpson began the nine rounds of bingo.
At the beginning of each round, Simpson had her assistant Svetlana colorfully display the prize that the lucky victor would get to claim at the end of the round. There was a wide selection of fun prizes, including a money rug, mystery bags, a Hannah Montana sticker and even cash.
Christopher Nuzzo, secretary of the LGBTQ Student Group, was one of the lucky few to go home with a prize.
“Linda was absolutely amazing! She made each moment we spent playing enjoyable, and [she was] extremely funny. I won a framed picture of kittens, and it was the highlight of my week! I look forward to having more events such as this one in the future,” Nuzzo said.
The first six rounds were played as traditional bingo while on the seventh round it changed to four corner bingo, offering bigger prizes as they were leading up to the grand prize that was to be revealed on the very last round.
On the last round Simpson announced that the game is changed again to super X bingo, a more challenging variation of bingo where you need to make an X across your board in order to win the ultimate grand prize. The grand prize winner, Erin McWilliams, won multiple prizes including a cat statue bank, twinkies and a gold crown and lei, crowning her the Queen of Drag Bingo.
The night concluded with a Q&A session with Simpson, who spoke on her introduction to drag as well as the community as it exists today.
“I was involved with a scene in the East Village in Manhattan which at that time was really going strong as a drag hangout. I was just actually hanging out and I became friendly with a lot of the people that were doing drag and that was a very unusual situation, because drag was not popular at all back then,” Simpson said. “The East Village was just doing something a little bit different. So I thought it was very fascinating, very cutting edge. So I started hanging out with people and I liked it so much that I thought ‘maybe I should try this too.’”
Simpson asserted that starting in drag is easier than people think, as YouTube tutorials and the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race have increased visibility and accessibility in the drag community.
“If you’re doing drag for your first time this is what I recommend, these are the three most important issues: a) you gotta buy the wig, b) you should find someone to do your makeup for the first time, because you can learn a lot by watching. And the last issue is the shoes, which play a vital part. I think the sign of a true drag queen is being able to walk in heels pretty easily,” she said.
Simpson closed the night after asserting the openness of the drag community.
“I think drag is a huge umbrella that anybody can do really. Gay men have kind of dominated it, and rightly so, because it is their art form, but that doesn’t mean that a lot of other people can’t join the fun,” Simpson said.
Editor’s Note: Christopher Nuzzo is a staff writer for The Quadrangle.