Middle school gets drag queens to perform at Pride and Liberation Event to help students embrace sexuality and gender identity
A middle school in North Carolina has invited drag queens to perform at their campus so as to inspire students to embrace who they are. The Pride and Liberation Event, which saw the collaboration of the management of the Central Park School for Children in Durham and local drag queens under The House of Coxx, was the brainchild of a couple of teachers who work at Central Park.
An eighth-grade teacher Taylor Schmidt and her colleague Schara Brooks saw how students who identified as LGBTQ were being bullied and subjected to other negative behavior, and decided to do something impactful and long-lasting to change that. In December, Brooks and Schmidt pitched the idea for a school-wide drag event, which would ideally not only help students understand that it is okay to be different, but also appreciate and embrace the various shades of sexuality and gender identity.
"Our drive was to remove barriers to success, belonging and the ability to thrive for all students," Schmidt told CNN. "It called for a hard look at the roots of these behaviors and intentional actions to liberate not just the bullied from oppressive acts, but the bully from the oppressive root causes of their actions."
The Pride and Liberation Event features drag queens of color Vivica C. Coxx and Stormie Daie from the House of Coxx performing for the students. The queens, who are also social workers and vocal advocates of social and racial issues in the Durham area for years, were surprised by the invitation to perform at a middle school. "I thought they must be feeling so empowered to see someone being themselves on stage. Visibility matters, and seeing a queer person of color on stage saying 'this is me' has an impact that no one can really measure," Vicacia told CNN.
Stormie added, "You hope that the children listen to this so that they know we didn't have this when we were growing up. We weren't seeing people like us being celebrated." The school ensured that this message of representation of finding your tribe was shared without any filters. "Central Park didn't water it down, but they made it age-appropriate to give depth to social justice and activism, which is the core of the queer experience," said Vivacia, adding, "It was so beautiful and so well received. I am still overwhelmed. It was ridiculously good."
The event, which was made optional for students to attend, saw a huge turnout, to the pride of Schmidt, who said that the event felt extremely important to them, especially as a member of the LGBT community. "I am so proud of my school for making such huge steps to make Central Park a safe, intersectional space. There have been many places I feel that I don't belong and this celebration has helped to make Central Park not one of them," added Schmidt.