Rainbow Union Empowers the LGBTQ+ Community at Drake
By CAMERON BOLTON
On March 27, Drake held an annual drag show that was presented by Rainbow Union and La Fuerza Latina. Rainbow Union is an organization for LGBTQ+ students that meets Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. in CAYA house. The current president of Rainbow Union is junior psychology major Luke Miller, who has held the position since last November.
“The drag show is probably what we’re best known for at Drake and that is an opportunity to not only have amazing performers dance on stage but also interact with the queer community and feel the support of your peers around you,” Miller said.
Rainbow Union is going through the archive to uncover how long the organization has existed and how long it has been doing the drag show. According to Miller, they have found posters that go as far back as 2004 and while he doesn’t know how much further back it goes, he estimates that it’s been at least a decade.
“Drag has always been a form of activism,” said M.Ed.Tony Tyler, director of student engagement, equity and inclusion. “It started with typically trans women of color would often start in drag and other communities of color started exploring drag and exploring power relationships in terms of gender and gender presentation and gender performance.”
According to Miller, the drag show is a fundraiser for Iowa Safe Schools, a lobbyist group that works with politicians for LGBTQ+ rights. They also offer a lot of important resources as well, such as visiting high schools in order to talk to teachers and administrators about how they could create a more inclusive environment. They form a governor’s conference to provide education to LGBTQ+ youth about sexuality and the LGBTQ+ community that might be lacking in schools. According to Tyler, this year the drag show raised about $900 to go towards Iowa Safe Schools.
“So we fundraise for Iowa Safe Schools, but I think also on a more basic level that the drag show itself is a form of activism because it’s a very public space. We donate to the drag show, it’s not like you just hand them a dollar at the door or whatever. To donate, you actually have to go up to everyone and hand a drag queen a dollar, which kind of puts you in the center of attention for a second,” Miller said. “Everyone sees you up there supporting the queer community. Even though that’s a pretty basic level activism, I think that for a lot of people it’s really empowering to you know, be able to say ‘Hey, here I am. I support this.’”
There are other events that Rainbow Union does besides the drag show as well, such as hosting Other Prom, an event where high schoolers who feel unwelcome going to their school’s dance still get to express themselves and experience that formal dance setting. In the fall, Rainbow Union has an event called Rainbow Welcome, which is an opportunity for new students to interact with queer alumni. Miller said that in the spring they have a more informal event where they come out, and they’re also hoping to have a self-care event that they’re going to collaborate on with DAAC (Disability Awareness Action Community).
“I think Rainbow Union does a lot on campus. When we see a problem, we can step in and say ‘How can we help what needs to be done to fix this?’ I think that’s a really important role that our organization plays,” Miller said. “Whenever we see a problem, it’s our responsibility to take steps towards fixing it, which, at a very basic level, can be coming to someone and saying ‘Hey, we have a problem too. We’re getting to point where we have a solution and executing them.’”