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The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

The student news source of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

The Racquet Press

UWL hosts 20th Annual Drag and Art Show

Sophie Miller
Performers applaud Pride Center Director Will Van Roosenbeek.

On Saturday, March 23, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Pride Center held its 20th Annual Drag and Art Show. The Pride Center’s vision statement, “aims to affirm, include and celebrate people across the spectrums of gender identity, gender expression, sexual and romantic attractions and be inclusive of intersectional experiences, perspectives, identities and needs of LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff.” The drag show is a space in which students, staff, faculty and community members can come together to celebrate and raise funds for the LGBTQIA+ community at UWL.

This year’s drag show was hosted by Professional Drag Queen Dee Dee Purr, a former student at UWL. Purr began performing drag in 2013/2014 at UWL during the Pride Center’s annual show. Purr is now a professional drag queen in Madison, WI. Additionally, Purr won the Wisconsin Entertainer of the Year FI 2023.

La Crosse will be hosting the 2024 Entertainer of the Year Contest at The Main on April 13. At this event, Purr will be handing over her crown to the next winner. Contestants include three former RuPaul Drag Race competitors: Trinity the Tuck, Mercedes Iman Diamond and Anastarzia Anaquway.

This year’s show had a total of 19 acts including students, staff, faculty and professional drag queens. The three professional drag queens and UWL alumni were Dee Dee Purr, Freya Feenix and Adelaide. The show included the 19 acts, door prizes and a UWL student art show during intermission.

Every year all tips received during the show are collected to provide scholarships for LGBTQIA+ students at UWL. The Pride Center hoped to raise $3,000 during this year’s show but fell short with a final total of $2,901.53. After the event, the Director of the Pride Center Willem Van Roosenbeek said, “[The Pride Center] should reach $3,000 with the online donations.”

The Racquet Press spoke with two of the student performers following the show to ask them about their experience. ‘Father Mother’, a student at UWL performed for the second year in a row. Father Mother said, “[The Pride Center and drag show] is everything to me. I’ve been thinking about this drag show since last year’s drag show; I’ve been excited since then.”

First-time performer, Riot said, “I considered doing [the drag show] my freshman year but I was like ‘no, I’m not gonna do it; that’s a lot of pressure and I don’t know what I would do’ but actually Father Mother inspired me more because I’ve been friends with them for a while.”

Both students spoke on the importance of the Pride Center to them and what the Drag Show means to them. Father Mother said, “For a lot of the people this is the first time they do drag and the first time they get to express their gender in a space like this, so I think it’s a really good thing for the campus.”

“The drag show is absolutely phenomenal and I love every second of it,” said Riot. “The Pride Center means a lot. It’s really nice knowing there’s a place on campus where I can just be myself, especially with the political climate.”

Host Purr and Van Roosenbeek both spoke of the increasing tension and legislation against the LGBTQIA+ community and transgender folx in the United States and both encouraged the audience to vote in upcoming elections.

“Thank you for making this a safe space tonight for all the entertainers and helping us create an environment that’s really loving and caring. We need you to keep speaking up, all of you. This is a horrible time in our country and I hope tonight you felt the love and keep spreading that,” said Van Roosenbeek.

He continued, “We have a beautiful queer family here at UWL, something that I don’t know that other schools have and I just want to thank all those queer folx that are out there that are a part of this family.”

You can find more information regarding the Pride Center here.

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About the Contributor
Sophie Miller
Sophie Miller, Social Justice Reporter
  • Year at UWL: Senior
  • PGPs: She/Her/Hers
  • Hometown: Prairie du Chien, WI
  • Major: Dual Major in Political Science & Communication Studies with a Public Communication and Advocacy Emphasis
  • Minor: Social Justice Minor
  • Other Campus Involvement: Intern in the Financial Aid Office
  • Future Plans after Graduation: Attend Graduate School
  • Favorite activity in La Crosse: Going to Pettibone Beach
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