By Jarod Golub
As this weekend’s Homecoming celebrations wrapped up, allies and members of this university’s LGBTQ community gathered at Stamp Student Union Oct. 29 for an annual Halloween-themed event.
This year dubbed Nightmare on Queer Street, the costume party took place in the Prince George’s Room from 6 to 9 p.m., with festivities including a drag king performance, a fully catered buffet, a costume contest and non-stop dancing.
“In the past, the event was called All Hallows Queen, and that was a more traditional drag show, so this year we wanted to branch into dancing, and a costume contest, and more things for people to enjoy,” senior communications major Aaron Ward said.
Ward is the co-board facilitator of UMD Pride Alliance, a coalition made up of some of the LGBTQ+ organizations on campus — one of the groups hosting the event.
Rather than a traditional drag show this year, event organizers invited Pretty Boi Drag, a D.C.-based drag king troupe co-produced by Pretty Rik E.
“People tend to be more enamored with drag queens because there is something about a man wearing heels and dolled up in a dress that has captured the public’s attention more,” Pretty Rik E said. “In general, it is not unusual to see a woman wearing pants, so we have to work on it twice as hard.”
“[Drag kings] are such a small part of the LGBTQ community in total,” Ward said. “So they really stood out to us as something we could bring to the event, that would still make it fun, but also show a different side of the community.”
The concept of drag kings provides unique opportunities to women in the LGBTQ community, Pretty Rik E said.
“For me personally, I always struggled with masculinity as a woman,” Pretty Rik E said. “Performing drag is what made me very very comfortable with it.”
According to Pretty Rik E, the crowd at Nightmare on Queer Street is the youngest that Pretty Boi Drag has performed for.
“I think if we start younger, we can help people build more confidence in themselves, which is the most important part,” Pretty Rik E said. “If you can walk through life with confidence, most people won’t say [anything negative] to you because you just look like you know what you’re doing.”
The performances weren’t just impactful for the drag kings, as many students who attended the party were pleased by the turnout and performances.
“I remember when I came here freshman year, there were only eight people here, so seeing the event grow so much is really amazing,” senior jazz band performance and English education double major Clarissa Corey-Bey said.
“Maryland is such a big school, so events like this draw a lot of unfamiliar faces. They provide a chance to meet someone you wouldn’t have met by any other means,” Ward said. “This was meant to be an event where people could learn from each other, so maybe if someone came in not knowing anything about drag, now they can go home with a little more information.”