November 30, 2020

History of Drag Ball: A look back on 15 years

Since the spring of 1997, Drag Ball has been one of the most unique events on Webster University’s campus.

The Webster Pride Association, now called the LGBTQ Alliance, established Drag Ball, and with the help of the Student Activities Council, Drag Ball came to life.

Drag Ball’s purpose is to entertain and raise awareness of the art form of female impersonation. It was started because students wanted an entertaining event to highlight Webster’s diversity.

Mia Pierre, a Webster 1997 alumna, was on the Student Activities Council at the time and said the first drag ball was a struggle to get started, but the response was great.

“The students who were planning it were enthusiastic,” Pierre said. “It was contagious; people in the community came out and said, ‘This is so cool, drag queens.’ ”

Pierre said the second year was also successful, but one essential part of the show was missing — professional drag queens.

She said the professionals got the days mixed up and thought they were supposed to come the day after Drag Ball.

“I had to get in front of everyone and say the professional drag queens didn’t show up,” Pierre said. “I was devastated.”

Pierre said when she stepped off the stage the student performers told her it was OK. The student performers carried on with the show. It was still a success.

Kelsey Tempeton, senior public relations major and president of the LGBTQ Alliance said the students’ loyalty to the event has become stronger.

“People ask about Drag Ball in the fall,” Tempeton said.  “They are so excited year round asking if we have a venue yet.”

Tempeton has been on the executive board for the Alliance for four years and became president in the fall of 2010.

She said in the four years she has worked with the LGBTQ Alliance she has noticed the crowd has become more diverse and students are learning about gender expression in a fun way.

“This event appeals to everyone — it’s a completely different experience,” Tempeton said. “Nothing is like Drag Ball. This is something that has held tradition and respect.”

John Ginsburg, University Center and Student Activities director said there are no other events on campus that discuss LGBTQ issues in this format.

Drag Ball is one of Webster’s most popular events and is now celebrating its fifteenth year at Webster University. John Ginsburg didn’t think that it would happen.

“The organization was much less organized back then, now each group keeps a record of how it was the year before?” Ginsburg said. “They know it’s a big deal.”

Tempeton thinks Drag Ball’s popularity has grown because students are more at ease watching a drag show at Webster than a bar.

Also, because the show is on campus, students get to see their fellow students and friends perform on stage.

Pierre said she is really proud her hard work helped create an event continuing on fifteen years later.


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