(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University hosted “Drag WU” for the first time since 2016, which featured drag queens from across the Carolinas and viral sensation Jasmine Masters.
The DiGiorio Student Union (DSU) and Prism, a student-based LGBTQ group, co-sponsored the event Oct. 18 in the Richardson Ballroom, in celebration of National Coming Out Month.
Masters is a former contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” who is also known for the popular “and I oop” meme, which Buzzfeed called “the best meme of 2019, period.”
With over 400,000 followers on Instagram and more than a million views on social media, Masters has become an overnight sensation.
Niya James, traditions and special events chair for DSU, said the event was intended to bring a sense of diversity from the LGBTQ community to Winthrop.
“Just an exposure to what they might not see every day. Some people have never been to a drag show. This could have been their first drag show,” said James. “This could have showed how different forms of entertainment brings all types of life and it also highlighted inclusivity amongst the campus. I feel like that was very beneficial for the students here.”
Cody Chester, president of PRISM, said he chose to bring the drag show back to campus, because the mission of the group is to highlight LGBTQ culture and trans-identity.
“People think that (drag queens) are just men dressed in women’s clothing. Actually, a lot of people discover their identity through (drag), there is a lot of transgender people who have discovered who they were through drag,” said Chester. “Get (people) to know that it is a way of expression for our (LGBTQ) community. You can hide behind a mask that is not socially accepted.”
Chester said Masters was not Prism’s first choice as host, however, just after the group booked her, the “and I oop” video went viral on social media.
Organizers also said the event emphasized the “T” in the LGBTQ community and promoted acceptance of transgender people.
For example, drag queen Makaylah Dushot performed “This is Me,” from the musical “The Greatest Showman,” which is about accepting and loving oneself despite what others say.
Before the song, Masters spoke about suicide rates among LGBTQ youth.
“I get parents calling me and emailing about their son or daughter about to commit suicide or have committed suicide, because they are not being accepted by their own community or just by people who are around. I have said before you judge someone or bring someone down, put yourself in their shoes and I bet you wouldn’t like the feeling,” said Masters.
“I love the event, it wasn’t a like, I really loved it,” said senior Kylah Gunter. “What I didn’t expect was the actual Jasmine to be there. I just thought they were using her face, just for the flyer, but for her to be there and to carry the girl’s names and give us a burst of energy after every round was just awesome.”
Masters and the other drag queens performed their renditions of popular songs, to the delight of the crowd, each featuring a unique and glamorous outfit that matched the personality of the music.
The line-up for the event included several drag queens who perform regularly throughout the Carolinas, including Ariana Venti (Greenville, S.C.), Makaylah Dushot (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), Erica Chanel (Charlotte), Jade Barbie Dushot (Sumter, S.C.) and Kristy Darling (Charlotte).
Masters continuously interacted with the audience and handed out articles of clothing, including the heels and earrings she wore during the viral “and I oop” video.
Junior Mykhaela Seawright, who had never been to a drag show before, said her perspective has changed after seeing the show.
“I just don’t have the same perspective I did. I thought it was very dramatic and extra, but honestly, they are just having fun. I just thought it was way worse (before), then what I saw,” said Seawright.
Chester said Prism plans to bring more drag shows to Winthrop in the future, so “Drag WU” could become an annual event.
“It was a blowout and a lot of people enjoyed it,” said James.