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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
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My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

TIMES ARE CHANGING — FAFSA announced changes to its filing system in February.
Editorial — The "better" FAFSA
North Wind Editorial Board February 27, 2024

Drag queens (and kings) strut their stuff

Your heart is racing, adrenaline going strong. Fear and anxiety take hold. The heat from the lights is burning, the roar of the crowd deafening. And the only thought going through your mind is: Do I look enough like the opposite sex?

On Friday, Nov. 14, the 12th annual drag show will take place in the Berry Events Center. The event will consist of a professional show followed by a chance for students and community members to perform in the amateur competition.

Jaclyn Calamaro, a senior electronic journalism major and drag show coordinator, said the show always has something exciting in store.

“One thing I’ve learned is that you can never expect anything from a drag show,” she said. “Except that you can always expect to have a good time.”

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Calamaro has been involved with the show for five years. She started performing in the amateur competition, but has been involved with the planning for the past three years.

Until two years ago, the show was held in the Great Lakes Room located in the University Center. It has since grown in attendance by at least 100 people each year, Calamaro said.

Vandament Arena housed 1,200 attendees last year, a number that is anticipated to grow this year despite the challenge of switching venues due to scheduling conflicts with the volleyball team.

“It poses a new challenge because of how big of a venue it is; there’s a lack of intimacy,” Calamaro said. “But this should be a successful show, (mainly) because we have a successful drag committee.”

For the first time, a committee of eight fellow students helped get the word out about the show by putting up posters, talking to possible sponsors and assisting Calamaro with organizing the event.

Some notable members of NMU are also helping with the show by judging the amateur competition. University President Les Wong and ASNMU President Hobie Webster are both judges this year.

Webster said he’s looking forward to judging the show, but is also a bit nervous.

“I’ve been out of town for the past three shows, so I’ve never been to one,” he said. “But it should be a lot of fun – I think it’s great that we have something kind of light hearted to address some real issues.”

Putting the show together is a huge process, especially when it comes to finding the professional performers, Calamaro said. The drag queens come from all over the world, even as far as Australia in past shows.

“It really is an international show,” Calamaro said. “We get the cream of the crop celebrity drag queens.”

The task of finding the performers is made easier by Tim “Tabbi” Iupkka, who performed as a drag queen for many years and has direct connections with many of professional entertainers.

Iupkka has offered his assistance with the show for each of the 12 years it has been happening, and although last year was his last time performing, he said the experience is always great.

“It’s amazing, the kids are always very receptive,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of the queens would normally come do a show up here, but they do because it’s such a good time.”

Not only are there drag queens involved in the show, but drag kings as well. This year, many acts from past shows will be returning, including student favorites Shannon Dupree and Ms. Gay Universe, Candi Stratton.

The slang “drag” refers to any set of attire with significant meaning usually connected to one gender but worn by another, so women dressed as men qualify as drag kings.

Even though Marquette isn’t as big of a city as these performers are used to, the amount of support from local business and community members has been huge, Calamaro said.

Local businesses ranging from Hot Plate to Dead River Café have acted as sponsors, and Impaled Tattoos has donated a $200 gift certificate this year for the grand prize of the amateur competition.

OUTlook has made great advances in creating a safe space at NMU for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBT) students, faculty and community members alike. Its annual drag show not only serves as one of the organizations biggest events, but also as a tool of empowerment for the community.

Ashlee Lambart, a senior art and design major and co-president of OUTlook, said the show clears up a lot of labels people associate with the performers.

“It breaks the stereotype of the big, bad scary drag queens,” she said. “It’s exposure to other people’s lives.”

The large amount of people that attend the show from neighboring high schools and colleges is inspiring, she added.

“It’s one of the bigger shows in the U.P., so we get a lot of support from schools in Iron Mountain, as well as Michigan Tech and Finlandia,” Lambart said.

Drag show coordinator Jaclyn Calamaro, who has been a member of OUTlook for the past five years, said the drag show offers a night where people from the community can simply be themselves.

“They don’t have to be the L or the G or the B or the T – they can just be them,” Calamaro said.

She added that the show is also a place for people from the LGBT community to socialize with people they can relate to.

“There really is no place to go (in Marquette) to meet someone who is similar to you,” Calamaro said. “That’s what’s really hard about being LGBT in the U.P.; it’s a lot harder to identify with people.”

Amy Hickey, a senior international studies major and co-president of OUTlook, said the show serves as a dedication to a crucial part of gay culture as well as a source of entertainment.

“Drag was one of the only culturally accepted representations of gay culture when society was more close minded about what it is to be LGBT,” she said. “It’s a part of history.”

Not only does the show mean a lot to the community, it serves as an educational tool for people who are not a part of it, Calamaro said.

“A lot of the time, I will tell people to check it out, and once they go, they realize how fun it is,” she said. “It’s a way to get outside your box.”

Looking OUT for LGBT students

OUTlook is an organization catering to LGBT students, as well as faculty and community members. It’s dedicated to gender expression and sexuality, and serves as a support net for these individuals and non-gay community members who support them.

Ashlee Lambart, OUTlook co-president, said the organization aims to encompass everyone.

“It is a safe place for people to come express themselves,” she said. “Members are usually split evenly into allies and actual gay community members.”

Amy Hickey, co-president of OUTlook, has been involved with the group since she was a freshman. She said one of the main goals of OUTlook is to be there for students and faculty when times are especially hard.

“Northern can sometimes be unwelcoming,” Hickey said. “We provide the resources so that if something were to happen, the person would know where to go and what to do.”

Things that sometimes make NMU a hostile environment to the gay community include homophobic chalkings on campus during Coming Out Day, threats made to students by their roommates or people in their dorm or people using the word “gay” as a negative adjective, Hickey said.

“People don’t realize how much harm they cause by uttering, ‘That’s so gay,’ whenever they are displeased,” she added.

The membership of OUTlook has increased steadily over time, and the group welcomed 65 people to their first meeting of the year.

Although numbers may dwindle over time because of other commitments, Lambart said the group is still going strong. Current members include a large number of freshmen who have been working with high schools on starting gay-straight alliances.

Hickey said the group has grown in function as well as numbers.

“In the past, the group was a lot less organized and a lot more social,” she said. “Now we are planning more events and setting up more committees. We are a social, political and emotional group with a lot of different functions.”

OUTlook is also dedicated to educating NMU students and community members on gender identities. These events include the annual activities during Coming Out Week, such as the Matthew Sheppard vigil and a hate-free dance.

Besides the upcoming drag show, the organization is also working on having an HIV national testing day on campuses nationwide, Lambart said. While there is already an existing testing day, it’s during the summer and not targeted toward campuses.

A business plan for an LGBT resource center is also in the works, which would serve as a place people could go for information about gender identities.

“It would be a place where students can come, ask questions and get answers,” Lambart said. “We’ve got all the resources, now we’re getting to the final stages.”

Next up after the drag show is Transgendered Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, which will include guest speakers focusing on what it’s like to be transgendered in Marquette.

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