Introvert, it is a term I know well. Being an introvert does not mean you do not like people, as some would suggest, but rather, that your “social battery” ( a term I use to describe how much social interaction I can stand in a day) drains faster than others, and you need to recharge the battery more often. I display extroverted tendencies, I am a chatterbox, sure, but I still can only bear with so much before I must go recharge.
Breaking out of this shell was hard for me, I knew that in order to truly get a good view of a social situation, of a situation i would never find myself in, that I needed to step out of my comfort zone. The MTU Drag Show was the perfect chance to do just that.
Drag Queens and Kings are known for their extreme extroversion on stage, going above and beyond to create larger than life personas, and to engage the audience is ways that most other forms of theater would not. The audiences of such events are known for being wild and partyers, carrying dollar bills with them to toss onto the stage, and dressing in wild clothing to match the hype of the stage. At the thought of the chaos I was going to enter, I was shaking.
Luckily for me, the girls of my floor in the dorms, had planned to attend the MTU Drag Show for several weeks, the night of, I approached their group and asked if I could join them, so I did not have to walk alone. This group of girls took me in and showed me the ropes of the “Drag Show” mannerisms, and helped me to break out of my shell as the night went on, but I never really did shake that sense of nervousness that I felt, that sense of exclusion felt at being an outsider.
Entering the theater, I was surprised to see a large range of people attending, elderly couples sitting next to one another, smiles on their faces, college students filled the front few rows, all pumped at what was to come. Following the girls I attended with, I felt a sense of dread when they all sat down in the front row. Right at the front of the stage. “Well, sit down! We will definitely be getting a lot of attention!” One of the girls said to me, when she realized how nervous I was.
Attention was the last thing I wanted. I had wanted to be the passerby that could sit at the back, and watch from afar, taking notes down on my phone. Why did I feel this way? Looking back, I consider how I was raised, who my friends were, the society in which I had grown up in.
I had grown up in an area where everyone was very religious. One knew that if word had gotten out that someone was gay, or that someone was outside of the norm in any way, you would be isolated from your peers. I knew several children who were home schooled so they didn’t have to go to school with non-Christians, others so they would not have to attend school with African-American children. Despite my parents encouraging me to break down those social barriers, I found it hard to break the norm. These norms, the fear of what would happen if I broke them, carried over to my adult life.
But sitting in the front row, off to the far side, where each of the ladies had at least a portion of their performance hosted to meet the fans, I was breaking the norms I grew up with, but I was oddly okay with it.
The ladies were all extremely kind to everyone, smiling, and cracking jokes the entire show, teasing one another, and partying with the audience. Never once did I feel excluded, isolated. I felt accepted and welcome among all of these strangers in the audience.
That is what these events were about after all, accepting people for who they are, and for who they want to be. These amazing Ladies (and man, lets not for get him of course) were able to break those barriers I had built around myself, that I had isolated myself inside of for years, in a single night. This event addresses social issues concerning how self-identity should be encouraged, expressing oneself for who they truly are should be praised. It addresses the fear that we as a generation face, that humans face. That fear of isolation, of being held outside of a group. The fear of being judged for who we are, and that for some reason we would be treated as less than human for expressing ourselves.
The Influence and Implications.
We have had it pounded into our heads since childhood. “There is a way things are done. That is just how it is.” We accept this. We accept that there are only “boys” and “girls” in our kindergarten classes. That for whatever reason boys can’t want to be ballerinas, or girls can’t want to be knights. Why, we ask. “That is just how it is” comes the answer.
This is to help us form a sense of social cohesion. We keep people on the right track by telling them “That is how it is”because that way, people do not stray from the path we want them to take, so that we all work together to move forward. But, this isn’t how it really works, at least, not really.
We, as a world, just accept things as they are. We make stride and baby-steps at the same time towards equality, towards breaking “That is just how it is” mentality. But at the same time we take bounding leaps backwards, placing barriers between what is acceptable to express, emotions, personality traits, etcetera, that do more harm than good. We shame those who want to express themselves, and for that reason we form more barriers to protect ourselves. We create our own limitations, but are influenced by the hands of society. It’s a conflict within society that invites nothing more than more conflict within ourselves, doubt, anger, fear, these are all brought upon by these walls that we build to protect ourselves.
If one group of ladies (and men) can effect a group of students in a way that breaks down those social barriers, and invites people in to celebrate who they are as people, imagine what could happen if the entire population were to do so. By taking a role in encouraging the uniqueness of those around us we are able to break down those self-built barriers, and enjoy life so much more.
See more about these lovely ladies and gents on Facebook! (LINK TO THIS YEAR’S PERFORMANCE PAGE)
Thank you all for the amazing show, I had an amazing time, and hope to attend your MTU show next year!