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Pride and pain

By Stephanie Corns
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 13, 1998
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Leigh-Anne Brown
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Miss South Regions 1998 Bunny Fufu displays a poster of President Clinton while singing and dancing at the "Lipstick and Lashes" drag show held on the UA Mall yesterday. The show was part of the National Coming Out Day '98 festivities and featured great costumes and several dance acts. The divas marked their grand finale with a parade through a rainbow-colored doorway to symbolize coming out of the closet.

Following Monday's death of a gay Wyoming college student who was beaten and lashed on a split-rail fence, UA students celebrated their sexual freedom and ability to be openly gay in a gala yesterday as part of National Coming Out Day.

About 300 students crowded around a rainbow-colored door on the University of Arizona Mall and shared in festivities. The celebration also com-memorated Matthew She-pard, an openly gay University of Wyoming student who died early yesterday morning after being beaten with the butt of a .357 Magnum Oct. 6. Shepard, a political science freshman, was allegedly targeted because he flirted with his male assailants at a bar.

"Based on what happened in Wyoming and the apparent ignorance involved in the crime, this event is even more important in educating society about what homosexuality really is," said Anna Jacobs, a leader of the group, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

The UA Bisexual, Gay And Lesbian Association, which sponsored yesterday's Mall events, circulated a petition in support of an anti-hate crime bill currently before Wyoming state legislators - and despite the somber undertones, students reacted enthusiastically to the day's events.

Sporting dresses and go-go boots, a UA student and five professional performers paraded across the stage to catcalls, cheers and laughter for the "Lipstick and Lashes" drag show.

"These girls are so beautiful," said Loree Kenagy, a dance freshman. "They're an entertaining bunch."

Michael McGarrigle, an art history senior and drag queen, said he was excited about performing.

"I really wanted to do this show because it was on campus," McGarrigle said, adding he was somewhat nervous about the reaction to last year's La Paz Residence Hall show.

One student threw eggs at the dancers during last year's performance. La Paz staff again sponsored a similar show on Oct. 5.

McGarrigle said this year's programs, both on the Mall and at La Paz, were met with enthusiasm.

"Everybody seemed to be open-minded," he said. "There was no negativity."

Bunny Fufu, Miss South Regions 1998, evoked laughter and cheers as she crooned "it's too late to do the right thing now," while dancing with a picture of President Clinton. Fufu also tossed condoms into the crowd.

Students actively participated in the performance by offering dollar bills to the dancers as they pranced around the mall.

Mr. Kenneth Blake, Miss Gay Arizona America 1998, was clad in a fringed, purple two-piece and raked in about $10 during a four-minute dance. The dancers' tips will be donated to AIDSWalk '98 to be held at Rillito Park Oct. 25.

BGALA also helped raise money for the walk by selling raffle tickets for a weekend rental of a Chrysler Sebring convertible.

The day's events extended beyond a festive atmosphere at the drag show to a more somber room where Planned Parenthood offered free AIDS testing.

About 20 students took advantage of this free service today, said BGALA Co-director Cecilo Dimas, a marketing sophomore.

"It's nice to have AIDS testing on campus," McGarrigle said. "It makes it more user-friendly, it's less intimidating."

In past years the county health department organized the AIDS testing, but government officials refused to come today because of Columbus Day, said Juan Acevedo, a veterinary science and deaf studies junior and event coordinator for BGALA.

Cheryl Brown of Planned Parenthood offered her services for the testing.

Rather than drawing blood, the orasure method was employed which tests for antibodies in the mouth.

Attendees said the only drawback of the day was the heat, from which the drag queens especially suffered. Costumes usually consist of six pairs of dance tights, and maintenance for each wig requires one can of hair spray per show.

BGALA also lined the Mall's sidewalks with pink inverted pyramid signs bearing the names of gay, lesbian, bisexual and gay-friendly people, like Eleanor Roosevelt, James Baldwin and RuPaul.

"We are out, we are proud, and we want to show it," Acevedo said.

Stephanie Corns can be reached via e-mail at Stephanie.Corns@wildcat.arizona.edu.

(Ed: Hey! We've got more photos of the drag show, why not check them out?)