Student: Harvard’s Drag Show is ‘Anti-Queer, Anti-Brown, and Anti-Black’

A member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community parades through central London during the annual Pride Parade on June 29, 2013.
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty

A student contributor to the Crimson argued this week that Harvard University’s drag show is bigoted.

Harvard student and Crimson contributing writer Nicholas Whittaker wrote a column that was published this week condemning Harvard’s drag show over its alleged ignorance of drag history. He also claimed that the production is bigoted against minority participants.

“Drag without the celebration and protection of Brown and Black Queer folks is anti-Queer, anti-Brown, and anti-Black. And an organization like the Hasty Pudding Theatricals—not actively pro-Queer, pro-Brown, and pro-Black and so necessarily anti-Queer, anti-Brown, and anti-Black—never could be drag,” Whittaker wrote.

Whittaker goes on to detail the history of drag performances within minority communities.

Drag’s present is irrevocably entwined with its past. Imagine, rather than the cast of the Hasty Pudding, Venus Xtravaganza, a small Latinx trans drag queen, dancing in the ballrooms of late-’80s New York. She dances because she knows the beauty of her Brown skin, her Queer body. Her dance gives her power. How else, but by dancing, can she live in a world that mercilessly crushes Brown and Black, Queer and trans bodies, crushes them under its anti-Queer, anti-Brown and anti-Black healthcare and legal system and education system and culture and police state? How else, but by dancing, can Venus Xtravaganza breathe?

Whittaker then provides his own incomprehensible definitions for “drag” and “drag queen,” making sure to note that Harvard’s annual drag show doesn’t meet such definitions.

Drag (noun): The air resistance in your face as you careen into the stars, unbound by your gendered and sexed body only to return at last to it such that your return is a homecoming, your skin is the night sky.

Drag queen (noun): Those icons, those flawed humans, those astronauts who wear their Queerness as a uniform and are murdered for it because you just can’t take it!

One commenter on the piece, allegedly an alumnus of Harvard University, condemned Whittaker’s “hatred, bigotry, and divisiveness” before predicting that leftists will ignore the column because its “ugliness” is coming from “the right places.”

Yes, this piece may seem funny. But read it again, carefully. Beneath all the buffoonish word salad, if you can stand to look that closely, you will find nothing but hatred, bigotry, and divisiveness. And yet some who like to imagine that they believe in a future where we all come together in our common humanity, rising above the unimportant details, nonetheless cower in fear when they see this ugliness coming from “the right places.”

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