Drag ball explores gender norms

Geneseo’s Pride Alliance has hosted professional performers from the Rochester nightclub Tilt in the annual Drag Ball for over 10 years, with this year’s event held on March 7. According to Pride president senior Bella Rabinovich, Drag Ball serves as an event where students can “play with gender.”

Professional Tilt performer DeeDee Dubois hosted Drag Ball and livened up the crowd with a witty running commentary. “You can tip us with dollar bills and put it anywhere. Tuck it anywhere as long as it’s green and not forged, I don’t need counterfeit money,” DeeDee joked. “I need to buy my chicken McNuggets on the drive home and they’re not a dollar anymore.”

Rabinovich promoted the idea of campus community through to the students performing. “Drag Ball is a way for people to play with gender in a safe environment,” she said. In light of Pride’s efforts to push for an accepting campus, Drag Ball provided a safe haven for students to express gender in any form.

“We want to encourage people to dress in clothes they wouldn’t normally dress in,” Rabinovich said.

Pride partnered with Geneseo Late Knight to create an accepting environment. “Say you are a dude; you can wear a dress and you can wear whatever you want,” Rabinovich said. “That might not always be acceptable in Geneseo, but here, you can play around with that.”

Pride and GLK pushed for gender-neutral bathrooms and encouraged the idea that students should dress up. They also provided outfits for people to try on. At one point, Dubois asked a student to go in the back and dress up as the opposite gender, encouraging participation from event attendees.

In total, eight students performed in the Drag Ball. “For some of them, it was their first time, and some were veterans and it was their last time,” Rabinovich said. “It was nice to see the support.”

As a performer herself, Rabinovich explained, “I’ve performed for three years now. It’s really fun and silly, but the crowd is really encouraging. I performed ‘Baby Got Back.’ It’s silly and over-sexualized, but it’s fun because you know the crowd will cheer you on.”

Pride also encouraged a safe environment for students participating by promoting an open attitude to everything. “Our staff was well aware that anything goes,” Rabinovich said. “You won’t go to Drag and ask, ‘Why are men wearing drag?’”u