On Friday night, May 7, as I entered the Tresidder Union’s Oak Room, leaving behind worries of midterms and term papers, I found myself entering a kind of plastic universe. Wigs, bronzer, and bright red lipstick abounded. Tights, corsets, and cocktail dresses made their way around the darkened room, illuminated by momentary flashes of light from a dozen cameras, capturing the gender nonconformity of a hoard of Stanford students. Mustaches situated themselves on the upper lips of women, heels on the cumbersome feet of men. I had arrived in what was a veritable universe of drag ostentation.
Genderfük is a Stanford tradition that has been around for years. Hosted by the Stanford Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) and cosponsored by a number of other undergraduate LGBT-related student groups like Black and Queer at Stanford (BlaQs), La Familia, Queer and Asian (Q&A), Jewish Queers, and the Emma Goldman Society for Queer Liberation, and graduate student groups like OutLaw and LGBT-Meds. Genderfük is a celebration of drag and a pillar of queer life at Stanford.
This year’s theme was “Drag Race,” a title borrowed from RuPaul’s drag show, which pits contestants against each other in a race to become “America’s next drag superstar.” Featuring as master of ceremonies Lady GayGay—a former Stanford undergraduate George Xander Morris—and performances by Catch A Fyah, Arabesque, Cuauhtemoc Peranda’s ‘10 creative thesis “The Voguette,” and other individual Stanford students, Genderfük 2010 was, according to its organizers, a huge success.
Stanford’s Genderfük also includes a competition that names a drag king and queen of the evening. Cory Quinn ’10, a senior who has participated in two Genderfüks while at Stanford, and who has been named runner up both times—last year for his impersonation of Naomi Campbell and this year as Beyonce—lost to Kiyan Williams ‘13, who went by the name “Miss Dicky Minaj” for the night. Williams took the crown for his two performances in Peranda’s “The Voguette.”
But Genderfük is about more than nylon, nipple tassels, and niches—it has significant purpose and meaning for members of the LGBT community at Stanford. Eric Tran ’10 said of the event, “Drag has its roots in reacting against oppression, but in its actual practice, drag is supposed to be fun and fabulous. Whereas when Stanford gathered against Westboro Church, the event was a reaction against a negative thing. Genderfük, in contrast, lets people in the LGBT community and those outside of the community gather for celebration. Instead of talking about how someone was using hate speech against us, we can instead look back and remember how wonderful so-and-so looked as Lady Gaga or how I had a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during my performance.”
Peranda, whose performance piece, “The Voguette,” was featured at the event, echoed Tran’s comments, “I think drag is a wonderful way to challenge gender. I think Genderfük really does help shape a distinct and healthy queer environment at Stanford. It is probably one of the most open and accepting events that the queer community puts on that is not directly an activist movement.” Of his performance, he said, “I wanted to display all the wonderful body language slash dance that is gay culture, that is queer culture, that is so very human, and so very familiar, but often not emphasized or seen.”