By Julia Dzurillay
Something sweet came to the College this week, and I’m not talking about the ice cream in Eickhoff Hall.
Peppermint, a Celebrity drag performer, Broadway star and LGBTQ+ activist gave students both a vivacious and intimate performance on Nov. 26 in the Brower Student Center Room 100.
The drag queen stars in Broadway’s “Head Over Heels,” a new musical comedy about modern romance featuring music by the pop group The Go-Go’s. She is the first openly transgender woman with a lead role on Broadway.
“(The show) is one of the most gender expressive and feminist things on Broadway,” she said.
Peppermint is also hailed as one of the first openly transgender women to compete on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a reality competition show where drag queens compete to win the coveted title of America’s next drag superstar.
In season nine, Peppermint earned second place out of 14 queens. She instantly became a fan favorite with her memorable lip sync performances and candidness about her gender identity.
Peppermint’s performance at the College began with an interactive routine to “Starships” by Nicki Minaj. As the night progressed, she performed covers from famous Broadway musicals like “Chicago,” lip synced to iconic songs from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” such as “Category Is” and even took selfies with a few students in the audience.
Although this was the first time a “Ru-Girl” performed at the College, PRISM and members of CUB have been coordinating a celebrity drag performance for over a year.
“Last year, we tried to do a celebrity drag show and the performer actually pulled out a week before they were supposed to perform, so I’ve actually been working on this for over a year now,” said Dylan Broadwell, a senior psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies major and the president of PRISM.
Other members of the club were happy to welcome the celebrity to campus.
“I love (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) and I love Peppermint. Since I’ve been friends with Dylan, they’ve been trying for a while to get a drag queen from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” here and it finally happened,” said Emily Miller, a senior English major and member of PRISM.
Students recognized the importance of bringing a transgender performer to the College as a way to promote diversity and inclusion.
“We’ve never really had a full scale drag show at (the College),” said Katarina Menze, a junior communication studies major and CUB member. “We basically wanted to do this because Peppermint is a transgender drag queen, she was the first transgender drag queen to come out on “RuPaul’s Drag Race”… and we wanted to bring awareness to transgender issues, to gay issues and to (LGBTQ+) rights.”
During the Q&A portion of the show, an audience member asked Peppermint about 11-year-old drag queen Desmond, who has been criticized for being too young to be a drag queen and an active member of the drag community.
“Anything that’s gender variant, anything that’s expressing something different than what the rules say has to do with sex, sexuality, gender or expression is somehow perverse and erotic and it’s not necessarily,” Peppermint said. “Of course, these things exist in humans. Even eating food can be sexy but we don’t say ‘don’t you eat food in front of my kids.’ So, I think folks that are trying to police drag and drag queens and are trying to limit (children) from their exposure to it are really just trying to advertise to the world that they are insecure.”
Peppermint also emphasized the need to exercise sexual liberation and to dismantle harmful stereotypes.
“If any of us change the rules of gender or sex or sexuality or gender expression that their world, as they know it, will be become unstable,” Peppermint said. “And I think that’s really what it’s about. When someone is trying to police you and tell you what the rules are, it’s not because they care about what your rules are it’s because they’re worried about how it will affect them.”