South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Drag show back despite controversy

Brina Sturm
Drag Queens from the 2021 Drag Show

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance will hold its annual drag show tonight in the Student Union despite security concerns and lingering fallout from last year’s show that sparked controversy.  

Every year the GSA has hosted an annual professional drag show featuring drag performers from across the Midwest. The annual drag show is the GSA’s most popular event and brings in most of the money the group uses for activities. Last year, the drag show attracted over 300 attendees.  

Last fall, the GSA was the subject of controversy when the group labeled its annual drag show as “family friendly,” and encouraged attendees to tip the performers. A video of a performer at the show, taken by an attendee, was edited with a video from the spring of 2022 to look inappropriate and was posted online.  

Many assumed the event was being held by the school itself and being paid for with taxpayer money. This was not the case.  

Registered student organizations are free to sponsor lawful events on campus in accordance with SDCL 13-53-52 and applicable policy. This event is being put on by the GSA student group and is not supported by university funds.  

Some, however, were not pleased. At the Dec. 8 Board of Regents meeting in Rapid City, lawmakers and citizens expressed their distaste for the drag show.  

Policy 1:35 was created to prevent the exposure of minors to campus events that the board deemed inappropriate, according to the Students’ Association Government Affairs Chair Michael Garofalo.  

Gov. Krisiti Noem has taken an anti-drag stance. According to an article from AP news, Noem has opened up a whistle-blower line for people to voice concerns over inappropriate behavior at college campuses. Noem also said she wanted to ban drag shows, remove references to preferred pronouns in school materials, along with other goals she listed in a ltter sent to the BOR.  

“Personal opinions on drag must be set aside, as court precedents have shown repeatedly that drag is protected under the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It would be an infringement on constitutional rights if the state tried to ban drag shows outright,” Garofalo said.  

After last year’s drag show members of the GSA and their adviser were sent hateful messages from all over the U.S. People even went as far as to send the performers death threats, according to Gonzales.  

Because of the controversy generated by the drag show last year, the GSA reached out to the SA and asked for security at the event.  

“I believe that will help to calm concerns over a repeat of the threats and hostile words aimed at the GSA and SDSU after last year’s drag show,” Garofalo said.  

Recently, the GSA met with UDP to ask for an armed officer to be present at the drag show. According to Garofalo, UPD did not believe an armed officer to be necessary, though officers will still be present as security.  

This year the GSA is doing a lot of the same things as last year.  

“We are in communication with the performers to ensure that things such as language, clothing, music, behavior and the dances are all PG-13,” Gonzales said.  

Because of the moratorium placed on minor’s attendance, the show is only for those who are 18 and older. IDs will be checked at the door and security will also be present. The majority of the performers will also be the same as last year.  

“Drag shows are a fantastic expression of self and gender featuring dancing, lip syncing and costuming,” said Alyssa Gonzales, president of the GSA. “Our show is, for a lot of people, the first time they experience drag. We like to create a safe and welcoming environment for people to experience drag for the first time. This show can also serve as an introduction to the Queer community.”  

Gonzales encourages people to look into the history and culture of drag. 

“Drag has a rich history that effects our day to day lives and even our language.” Gonzales said.  


According to Gonzales, the Do’s and Don’ts of attending a drag performance are as follows:  

Be loud 

Cheering for the performers lets them know they’re doing a good job and that you’re enjoying the show. 

 Be respectful 

Respect and follow any rules the performer may have while performing their routine.  

 Tip the performers  

Tipping is a way to show your appreciation, and is one of the main ways performers make their money. It is not required, but it is highly encouraged. 

 Don’t touch the performers without permission!   

Respect their boundaries and personal space.  

 Don’t interrupt or try to steal the show!   

The performers put a lot of time and effort into their performance.  

 Take pictures  

 Attendees are encouraged to take pictures, but make sure to use the flash so the performers look good!  

 During previous drag shows, an attendee would offer $1 or $5 dollar bills and the performer would come and grab it in a “fun way,” Gonzales said. This year, the GSA will have buckets for people to put their money in to limit contact with the performers.  

 The show will be tonight in the University Union SSU 0101 Volstorff (A & B) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  

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About the Contributor
Brina Sturm
Brina Sturm, Managing Editor
Brina Sturm is the volunteer Managing Editor at The Collegian and a sophomore English education major. Brina loves dinosaurs (the Parasaurolophus is their favorite) and hates stringy ham. When she’s not at school, Brina enjoys listening to Hippo Campus and rewatching her favorite TV show, Fleabag. Last summer, she (finally) learned how to swim.

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