‘The sun doesn’t ask permission to shine,’ the CAB drag show


Cheyenne Quintanilla

Zelina Azul posing during the Campus Activities Board’s drag show. J.J. Hernandez, chairman of Huskies After Dark for CAB, said the event was held due to a recent lack of drag shows and the passing anti-drag and anti-transgender legislation. (Cheyenne Quintanilla | Northern Star)

By Joseph Howerton, Video Editor

DeKALB – A murder occurred on Thursday night: five queens slayed the stage in front of a fervid audience.

At 8 p.m. Thursday, the Duke Ellington Ballroom held a free drag show. The crowd of nearly 400 people were treated to a night of music, performance, food, drink and interactions with the five drag queens, hosted by Aleyna Couture.

With the performance came education on drag culture and a call to action against the recent barrage of anti-drag bills sweeping the country.

Performers Aleyna Couture, Zelina Azul, Destiny Valero, Angelica Diamond and Flicky Four Loko were invited by the Campus Activities Board to take the stage in bedazzled outfits, dancing and lip-syncing to the works of Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Disney classics and more.

The display could not be contained to the stage, as the queens would descend – or in some cases leap – from the stage in high heels.

Audience members were given the chance to dance with, be serenaded by and/or sing with the queens. At halftime, 10 audience members were allowed to take part in the performance by volunteering for a booty shake competition.

Performance was met with abundant cheers and laughter such as when Diamond took to the stage in a bedazzled fishnet outfit of Minnie Mouse, using the tail as a microphone. When Couture asked “Is everyone having a good time?” the audience would respond every time with a “Hell yeah!”

This is not the first time NIU has held a drag show. According to J.J. Hernandez, chairman of Huskies After Dark for CAB, the school held one back in 2015, and the Gender and Sexualities Alliance held one Saturday.

Couture and Hernandez expressed their desire for people to understand drag culture is not this evil thing those who admonish it make it out to be, and that those naysayers should come to a performance to see what it’s like. With the banning of drag shows in Tennessee, Hernandez reached out to Couture and her friends in hopes of educating people.

“Sometimes you need to go experience it so you can be like, ‘oh this was actually kind of fun,’” Couture said. “It’s to be open minded, and it’s not what you think it is.”

Olivia Frieden, a first-year special education major, and Briar Sigler, a sophomore psychology and art major, praised the performance for exceeding expectations.

Frieden said drag is a part of mainstream culture, mentioning figures like Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire, so she doesn’t understand the animosity toward drag.

Spigler said they feel caught between their beliefs as a Christian but that drag shows are not something to villainize.

“So personally, as someone who’s an actual Christian and like a lot of people are against it (drag), I’m just like ‘let people live their lives.’ What are they doing? They’re dressing up in fancy little outfits and singing little songs,” Spigler said. “Why do we do this? Why are we so against this? It just breaks my heart because they’re just having a great time and so are we.”

At the performance were links to drag educators Crystal Labejia, William Dorsey Swan, Valentaia and a link to a video by Trixie Mattel.

Ending the performance, Couture called out to the audience saying that it is 2023, times are changing and that we are not our grandparents.

“The sun doesn’t ask permission to shine, and you can stand tall on your own,” Couture said.