While the University of Winnipeg (U of W) is home to a number of diverse groups and clubs, there has never been one specifically devoted to drag. Aldin Sabic, founder of the Drag Student Association, hopes to change that.
For Sabic, drag is more than makeup or clothing. It’s a process of self-exploration and a chance to move outside of the socially mandated gender expectations. Drag first allowed Sabic to explore and celebrate their femininity – something they previously hid.
“Drag allows you to see a side of yourself that you can embrace and be proud of,” he says. Kris, another group member who wishes to remain anonymous (referred to here by a pseudonym), describes drag as more than just “an opportunity for self-expression, (as it) allows individuals from across the gender spectrum to share a moment of fun and entertainment,” they say. “Drag isn’t just lip-syncing and death drops, but it’s also understanding the struggles of the 2SLGBTQIA+ (and) challenging the cis-hetero norms and oppressive systems that are still in place.”
When Sabic started doing drag in February, they soon realized the U of W had no student groups that focused on gender performance. Now, the Drag Student Association aims to connect people involved with the drag world and bring drag events to campus.
Kris says they joined the Drag Student Association to learn more about themselves and the drag community.
“I (hope) to get a better understanding of the history of drag in Winnipeg and really get to know the different types of drag we have here,” they say. “The evolution of drag has changed, and I am eager to learn and hear everyone’s perspectives.”
Sabic hopes that the campus group will become an inclusive space for growth and self-discovery. “I want to offer a space for people who might be interested in performing drag for the first time,” he says.
Sabic recognizes that the world of drag can be intimidating to navigate at first. They hope to alleviate this by offering workshops and classes focused on supporting performers to learn new skills and be successful.
Sabic hopes to bring in experienced local drag performers. “We see so much support for mainstream drag, but sometimes people forget about supporting their local drag queens,” they note.
For many, RuPaul’s Drag Race was their first introduction to the art of drag. For Kris, the show was an introduction to a community they were always curious about.
“I (would) watch legendary performances from iconic drag queen and kings across the media and want to explore queer history and (its) impact on our society,” they say.
Sabic emphasizes that the club is open to all. “Our group is not an exclusive group for people with an abundance of drag knowledge, but it’s a safe space to learn and ask questions of all matters relating to drag,” he says.
The Drag Students Association is hosting a drag brunch at Elements on Oct. 23. Tickets for the 12:30 p.m. event are $15 and available at linktr.ee/uwdrag. Find more information about future events on Instagram @uwdrag.
Published in Volume 77, Number 03 of The Uniter (September 22, 2022)