As Tennessee outlaws drag in public places and several other states consider similar bans, a Texas university canceled a student-run drag show on Monday (March 20). But, rather than cite arguments about “protecting children,” the college’s reasoning behind axing the show was because it views drag as a style of performance similar to Blackface.
West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler explained in an email to students, faculty, and staff why he moved to stop the show from happening. “Drag shows stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes for the amusement of others and discriminate against womanhood,” he wrote, per NBC News. “Drag shows are derisive, divisive, and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent.”
“As a university president, I would not support Blackface performances on our campus, even if told the performance is a form of free speech or intended as humor. It is wrong,” he continued. “I do not support any show, performance, or artistic expression which denigrates others — in this case, women — for any reason.”
The event was scheduled for later this month and was intended to raise money for The Trevor Project, a crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth. Wendler insisted in his letter that students “skip the show” but still donate to the nonprofit group.
Juan Aguinaga, president of the Hispanic Student Association at the school, was a member of the planning committee for the show. The performance was in the works for months before the president’s last-minute email.
“It’s just concerning because the drag show was meant to be for The Trevor Project, which is an organization dealing with the prevention of suicide amongst LGBTQ teens and young adults,” Aguinaga told NBC News. “It’s just really disheartening to know the basis… [That] drag is a threat against womanhood, and he links it towards Blackface. So, I don’t really get the point he’s trying to make.”
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