History was made on Oct. 21. For the first time in Brandeis history, Dining Services hosted an LGBT inclusivity event: a drag show called “Drag Me to the Stein” featuring the drag queen Binx. The Brandeis Hoot spoke to some of the planners—Marketing Specialist Alexander Zolotov from Dining Services, Director of the Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) Julián Cancino and Coordinator for the Intercultural Center and GSC Julie Le—prior to the event to learn more about the process of putting it together and the importance of a show like this.
“For the first time in Brandeis’ history, Dining Services is hosting an LGBTQ-specific event. In partnership with the Gender and Sexuality Center, the event center voices of LGBTQ+ students of color,” wrote Cancino in an email to The Hoot. The timing of this event is also intentional, as October is LGBT history month. Zolotov said that recognizing this timing was important, as typically dining does not get to celebrate LGBT inclusivity with a vast number of students, as pride month is in June. “It’s a perfect opportunity to create that space for students to have pride and see that space for themselves,” said Zolotov in an interview.
The event itself is supposed to be a large, intentionally noticeable celebration—”a really ‘in your face’ kind of event that people notice and want to attend,” according to Zolotov. He said that the planning staff tried hard to incorporate many different elements to make the event as grand as possible: Binx, of course, but also the food, mocktail bar, decorations and venue.
In order to do a celebration of this size, many different campus organizations teamed up. “For this event, we are so thankful for [Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition] QTPOCC, Dining Services and the Brandeis Undergraduate Student Union and Student Activities for dedicating a lot of their resources from their time to sponsorship. This event also gave an opportunity for collaborative efforts with offices like GSAS and Student Affairs,” wrote Le in an email.
When asked why “Drag Me To The Stein” was so special, each planner agreed that celebrating inclusivity was the key component. “‘Drag Me to the Stein’ is a meaningful experience for students because it’s a fabulous reminder that ordinary people can shape history and make a difference in the world,” wrote Cancino. Le wrote, “‘Drag Me to the Stein’ is really special because it brings together drag brunch culture, ballroom culture and student life —an intersection that can be social and subtly educational. And I think it’s also impactful for students to have a sneak peak at what they can participate in outside of Brandeis or after graduating; it’s an opportunity to understand the expansive scope of the queer community.”
“It’s almost like a push for a culture shift towards greater inclusivity in the community in general. People are more understanding of differences people have and … by bringing this to people’s eyes, in some way, you’re exposing them to this environment. It’s this idea of educating people who might not have this education available to them—to see this individuality and expression is what makes us unique and inspires progress,” said Zolotov. He’s hoping that this will set a precedent of inclusivity in dining and inspire similar events in the future.
October is home to many LGBT holidays, including National Coming Out Day and Asexual Awareness Week. According to Cancino, “Founded in 1994, LGBTQ+ History Month is a celebration of the victories and reminder of the struggles for LGBTQ+ civil rights. It’s celebrated in October in honor of the historic National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place on October 14, 1979.” This is separate from pride month, which Cancino said focuses more on the Stonewall Inn protests led by transgender women activists like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
“Drag Me To The Stein” took place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21. To learn more about inclusivity on campus, visit the GSC website or sign up for their newsletter.