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Birdcage allows students to experience LGBTQ culture

Birdcage, an annual drag show event put on by Individuals Respecting Identities and Sexualities (IRIS) and Carolina Productions, will be held April 5 from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. 

“It's always just a fantastic show to watch. Drag ... it’s a very unique kind of performance,” said Cooper DeStefano, IRIS president and third-year computer science and mathematics student. “A lot of the performers from the Columbia area a lot of them do the show every single year … I’m just very excited to see them perform again.”

Birdcage is not something every student would think to attend, but the event allows all students the chance to experience an important part of LGBTQ culture. 

“From my experience, some people have yet to actually come out and admit they are fans of this at home so when they come back to school and can really be themselves — it’s nice that we have this event,” said Emma Smith, special events coordinator for Carolina Productions and second-year Chinese student. “That’s something they may not be able to enjoy when they’re at home … I’ve had a few people tell me that.”

A drag show involves multiple queens — and kings — lip syncing, singing or dancing to music along, sometimes with audience participation.

“A lot of performers do try to do audience interactions,” DeStefano said. “So, come out to the show just keeping in mind you can interact with the performers and it’s encouraged. It’s just a part of drag.”

Students coming to the show are encouraged to tip the performers. In order to help make this possible, IRIS and Carolina Productions will have one dollar bills to exchange so that every student can participate fully in the experience.

“It is encouraged that they tip because that’s how they make a lot of their money,” Smith said.

Just a few of the performers at Birdcage will be Roxxie Beatz, Ebony Wood, Oliver Clothesoff, Riley Huntee and Veronica la Blank. These local drag performers will be joined by the winners of IRIS’s fall amateur drag competition.

“This semester has been a lot of reaching out to get a headliner for the show, contacting queens and kings in the Columbia area,” DeStefano said. “We also have the winners of our fall show, Mr. and Ms. Gaymecock, they will be performing as well.”

Birdcage will be held in Russell House Ballroom B and is open for all students free of charge.

“It is really IRIS’ big event for the spring semester,” DeStefano said. “Drag is a big part of queer culture ... It’s a cultural event in a sense so we are really inviting the campus to come take part in this culture.”

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