As part of Coming Out Week this October, Montclair State University’s LGBTQ Center hosted a “Drag Extravaganza” at Red Hawk Nest in the Student Center Annex. With a flock of Red Hawks cheering and loud music playing, male students competed to see who would become Montclair State’s Next Drag Superstar.
Graduate coordinator for the Office for Social Justice and Diversity’s Multicultural Center Charles Simonson welcomed students to the event.
“This is something [the Office of Social Justice and Diversity] try to do every year,” Simonson said.
Freshman visual arts major Nick “Gii Mii Moore” Ducusin stole the show as she lip-synced and danced to Beyonce’s “Get Me Bodied.” By the end of the event, Gii Mii Moore won the competition, earning her a crown and scepter.
“Whenever I’m in drag, I feel very confident,” Ducusin said. “I’m an okay-ish confident person, but then I put on the wig and the face and it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s a woman.’ I just love feeling good and having everything look beautiful. I love just being as confident as I can through [drag].”
Other drag performers included Fred “Olivia Lux” Carlton, who is a Montclair State theater alumnus and was a special guest host at the event. His drag name was inspired by the character Olivia Pope in ABC’s “Scandal,” a political drama television series. “Lux” is short for luxurious and is also a measurement of light, which was the perfect fit for Olivia’s last name.
“Positivity and light are definitely things I like to take with me in life and incorporate within my drag persona,” Carlton said.
Senior communication and media arts major Justin Vallejo goes by “Justyn Bearlover” when he dresses in drag. While performing to The Pussycat Dolls’ “Hush, Hush,” Vallejo’s wig fell off and he executed a split, causing a roar of applause from the audience.
On Saturdays, Vallejo has his own show on the campus radio station WMSC called “Scattered Plot,” where he discusses LGBTQ-related topics, pop culture and entertainment.
A few days after the Drag Extravaganza, Carlton was a guest on Vallejo’s radio show. Carlton spoke candidly to Vallejo on the show about what led him to be involved in drag culture.
“I wanted to express myself,” Carlton said. “I wanted to be able to bring my artistry to life. Even though I like to do makeup and construct garments, I felt like there were these expectations of what society had for me in terms of being a boy.”
According to Campus Pride Index, Montclair State was named in the Top 30 Most LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges or Universities in the nation in 2018.
With the help of the LGBTQ Center, Office of Social Justice and Diversity and other campus organizations, Montclair State continues to encourage inclusivity and spread awareness about the LGBTQ community.