Drag returns to UND community

Janessa Jaye Champagne performs at the VFW on Saturday. Photo by Nicholas Nelson/The Dakota Student.

UND’s Ten Percent Society kicked off its Grand Forks Drag Show Season on Saturday night at the East Grand Forks VFW. It included performances by The Cities Victoria “Boom Boom” Gotti, Janessa J Champagne, BJ Armani and Prada Dior.

“I’ve never been to a drag show before,” UND senior Morgan Anderson said. I’m having a blast so far. My favorite (performer) is Victoria ‘Boom Boom’ Gotti.”

During the night, Gotti jumped up on stage and began lip-synching and dancing to Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” Some spectators ran up on stage to dance with her and all the other performers.

“I love this,” senior Jessica Groseth said. “It is so refreshing being able to see people do what they love. I think everyone should go to a drag show at least once in their life. It is a great atmosphere. Everyone is here to have fun. The music is on point, and these drag queens and kings are fabulous.”

The show was limited to 18-years-of-age or older but that didn’t prevent a variety of age groups from showing up. There was a big representation of the younger crowd, but an older crowd was present too.

“It is nice seeing such a variety of ages here because it shows how open minded people are becoming,” Graduate Student Trevor Warzecha said.

The next drag show will be on Sept. 27 in East Grand Forks at the American Legion.

“We want you there,” Saturday night’s host BJ Armani said.

History

The Ten Percent Society is a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) group on campus that promotes a safe and welcoming environment for the LGBT community.

This community has a long standing tradition in the state of North Dakota. Founded in 1982, the Ten Percent Society is the oldest LGBT group in the state.

“The community received its name because back in the early 80’s it was estimated that approximately 10 percent of college campus’ were queer,” Ten Percent Society Vice President Alex Rehovsky said.

“Drag shows are a huge part of the queer community,” Warzecha said. “The Stonewall Era was the start of the gay rights movement. Men started dressing up in what is now known as drag. Drag is very important and prevalent in our community because that is our roots.”

The Stonewall Era took place in the 1950s and 1960s when support groups for heterosexuals began to form.

Warzecha said that he and other members of the society had developed a mission statement to help show the society’s goals — “to provide support for members of communities of sexual and gender diversity and their allies at UND and in the greater Grand Forks area; to provide education related to understanding and appreciating differing sexual and gender identities for group members as well as for the larger Grand Forks community; and to promote advocacy for these groups locally, regionally, and nationally.”

Hailie Pelka is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]