COLLEGE STATION, Texas — After Texas A&M University stopped student-organized event, Draggieland, from submitting paperwork in 2021, there was question of whether or not the event would be able to be put on.
Draggieland is a popular drag show event that happens on campus where several drag queens perform for the chance to be named Queen of Draggieland. The event is very popular among students and the LGBTQ+ community in Bryan/College Station. It's so popular that it sold out the two previous years and won program of the year in 2021.
So when Texas A&M told student organizers that the school would no longer be associated with the event, cutting off funding and university branding, many were dismayed and worried that they had seen the last of Draggieland.
But the show must go on.
Student organizations oSTEM, Transcend, LGBTQ+ Aggies, and Makeup Artist Aggies came together in solidarity to save the show, organizing it together and asking the community for support.
The community came together in an overwhelming fashion, causing the event to sell out for the third year in a row. Not only did the event sell out, but even the merch available sold out as well.
"It's so exciting, we were like absolutely over the moon when we figured out the show was sold out." Frey Miller, Draggieland Advocacy Chair and student leader of trans organization Transcend, said. "It's just a huge representation of the support we are getting from the queer community and how much people care about this. But also from the allied community which is absolutely fantastic, to see so many different people here today."
The event has faced lots of hardship in the past, both from the university and protesters who are against the event and what it represents. At the event on April 19, 2022 a few protesters showed up and started praying for attendees but the organizers of the event wouldn't let the display get to them.
"If I could say one thing to those who are against Draggieland I would just urge you to reconsider where your heart is and whether your intent impacts LGBT's in your community who don't feel safe to come out." Daniel Hou, Draggieland Executive Showrunner, said.
The giant show of support didn't just mean a lot to event organizers, but to the performers as well. During the show, each drag performer was asked what drag means to them and the consensus was the same. Drag is about the community coming together and creating a space for them just to be themselves.
"I just feel a lot of love, a lot of gratitude," Hou said. "The entire Bryan/College Station community has come out and just really showed it is okay to be LGBT in this town. This town used to be known as closet station, unfortunately, but I think this town is changing."
Even with all the struggles Draggieland has faced over the past year they persevered and shined through. Putting on an unforgettable show and setting the stage for many shows to come.
"We are currently working on the Queer empowerment council which is a new community organization that includes queer leadership from the Bryan/College Station community to help implement LGBTQ inclusive policies and the Queer Council will be the new home of Draggieland in the future," Frey said.
Making Draggieland a staple in the community and a new Texas A&M tradition.
"Draggieland has definitely grown into its own Aggie tradition so we want to make it stay and we will work to make it stay."
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