by C. Garrett Keidel Asst. Sports Editor
On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the Manhattan College LGBTQ Student Group hosted a Drag performance in Hayden 100. The featured performer was a New York City based drag queen, Aja.
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Aja is known for her club performances here in NYC, along with her appearances on the now Emmy-winning show, RuPaul’s Drag Race, competing on season(s) 9 and All Stars 3.
Those who came to the performance were able to watch Aja’s live performances, participate in Rupaul’s Drag Race Trivia, personally ask Aja questions in a Q&A session and for the lucky few, get to take pictures with her during the meet and greet session.
Overall, the night was planned to be around an hour and a half of performance and celebration in what Roi Mase, the president of the LGBTQ Student Group, described as “our Superbowl.”
During the event, attendees witnessed several numbers, wig/wardrobe changes and even a healthy dose of advice from Aja. Topics ranged from how to carry a positive mind-set through life, how to continue to spread love and even where to get the best empanadas in Brooklyn.
After her performances and Q&A, she commented further on these topics.
“My advice for anyone who wants to make a big impact in a small community, honestly, is to be yourself and promote the right things,” said Aja. “Always bring things up for discussion. It’s a good thing and it’s healthy to discuss things that aren’t necessarily agreed on. I think it’s very juvenile how people these days are so quick to jump to the negative solution for everything. It shouldn’t be that if you don’t like something then you ‘cancel it’ and throw it away. I think it’s important to investigate all sides of everything… Then people want to look up to you as a role model.”
Mase, along with the rest of the LGBTQ Student Group executive board worked long and hard in order to get this event to be the success that it was. The process of planning this event took the span of over six months to put together.
“It’s had its ups and downs when it comes down to the planning. But a lot of Administration, especially Student Engagement, have been really important in getting this together,” Mase said.
The concept of LGBTQ acceptance and exposure were brought up by both Mase and Aja after the performance. They both mentioned the importance of the topic along with how special it was that the MC community were supported throughout the entire process.
“Especially on a small campus like Manhattan College, the fact that it’s Catholic, its very important that they would sponsor these kinds of events,” said Mase. “The fact that faculty were so supportive really shows that there is a shift in campus culture for sure.”
“I think that it is important to be exposed to queer culture from a younger age because it allows someone to develop a sense of acceptance,” said Aja. “I feel like transphobia and homophobia, and even racism are learned while we’re young. A lot of it starts with the enforcement of gender roles at a young age. But if you just let your child be an individual, they’ll grow up and have the most pure outlook on things in life. I think it’s important that people are exposed to everything.”
Students heavily supported the event, almost fully filling the available seating in Hayden 100. The student reaction to the event was nothing short of joyful, excited and extremely happy. The crowd continued the cheer and clap along throughout all of the performances, including those with Aja rapping into a podium microphone.
“Everyone was so positive and supportive of each other,” said freshman Sami Rini. “This was my first time seeing a drag performance but it definitely won’t be my last… It was so much fun and supported such a welcoming environment that I’m happy to see on my campus.”
At the end of the evening, Aja had one final message for the LGBTQ community at MC along with the school community at large.
“My message is honestly to love everyone in the community. I think that a lot of the LGBTQIA+ get lost in the sub issues. Whether it’s the dating issues or many others, it’s important to remember the gay community along with the rest of the LGBTQIA+ are already marginalized, so its not good to continue to further marginalize people for something they cannot control,” Aja said.