On April 21, current students and pre-frosh gathered in Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub for Harvard’s annual Drag Night, hosted by the Harvard College Queer Students and Allies. Yara Sofia—a Puerto Rican drag queen known for her appearances on “RuPaul’s Drag Race”—was the emcee for the show. The Harvard Crimson spoke to some of the student performers of the night.
Nancy Boi, a performer in Drag Night 2018, became fascinated with drag in high school after he started watching “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
“As somebody who came from a fairly conservative school in a relatively liberal area, it’s something that I really connected to when I was watching it and the show became a sort of safe haven for me while I was in an environment that was not necessarily too hospitable for queer people,” Nancy Boi said.
When he came to Harvard, Nancy Boi spent his freshman year exploring being openly out in an academic setting, but his sophomore year, he decided that drag was something he wanted to try. “I wanted to experiment with how I portray my gender and explore the intricacies of it. I thought that I would try drag and I did it on Halloween. I loved doing it and I’ve done it ever since.”
“[I decided to do Drag Night] because I love performing and there aren’t that many opportunities here at Harvard [to do so], queer spaces even I would say. It’s a space to perform, almost an escape from ‘reality’ even, but it’s also an opportunity to show prefrosh that there are queer spaces at Harvard,” Nancy Boi said. “Sometimes they’re hard to find, but they can be carved out.”
Nancy Boi sees drag as a way to explore the nuances of gender and to challenge longstanding cultural narratives surrounding femininity and masculinity. Even on a personal level it affects him deeply.
“I think being able to do drag has been able to connect me to the gay rights movement more so than almost anything else,” he said. “Even in the short time span since I’ve been doing it, I’ve felt like it’s become a part of my life. It’s something that I really enjoy doing, even if it’s just in my room. I’ve really loved getting to learn its history, like with the queer rights movement and with [the way it] challenges the norms of society and what we’re ‘supposed’ to do. It’s all helped me to understand my identity better as a person.”
“[At Harvard, the drag scene has] been a really affirming space. It’s a queer space that’s very hospitable to all identities, even minority identities within the queer community,” he said. “That’s not to say that other queer spaces aren’t hospitable or friendly, which there are, but I think finding party spaces and social spaces that are accepting where you can really be yourself and not even feel expected to conform to the dominant norms even within the LGBTQ community is [a really positive experience].”
—Staff writer Edward M. Litwin can be reached at email@example.com.
Patric C.W. Verrone ’18, Nadya Plaything
“I originally went by the name ‘Pam Cookingspray,’” Patric C.W. Verrone ’18 says. “But then someone pointed out to me that isn’t really the pun, but the name of a product.”
Verrone, a senior studying Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality, first became interested in drag after performing as Frank-N-Furter in a production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”