Participants of Spectrum's drag show perform on stage in Lamberton Hall on April 16, 2023.(Hao li/B&W Staff)

Spectrum ‘Drag Night’ encourages inclusivity


“Marsha bucks,” a form of replica money inspired by historical LGBTQ activist Marsha P. Johnson, showered the stage in Lamberton Hall as a token of love for drag performers. 

Lehigh’s Spectrum club hosted their annual “Drag Night” on April 15 to raise money for the local Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Center in Allentown. 

Maddie DeAngelis, ‘25, vice president of Spectrum, said the club donates the funds they raise to a new charity each year.

DeAngelis said they selected the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Center this year because they wanted to help support a smaller foundation to make a greater direct impact. 

Hundreds of students came to Lamberton and purchased “Marsha bucks.” Spectrum donated the money used to purchase the fake bills. 

Both amateur and professional drag performers took the stage, something that Scott Burden, director of the Pride Center, said made the event special. 

Hosts of Spectrum’s Drag Show sing on the stage in Lamberton Hall on April 16, 2023.(Hao li/B&W Staff)

Burden said performing drag usually entails lip-synching, but there are many different types of drag performers.

Spectrum’s drag show included dances to lip-synched songs, live musical performances, costume changes, characters and a puppet act.

“Performing drag at this show allows people an opportunity to explore an art form,” Burden said. 

Burden is an annual active audience member, but also took to the stage in 2018 and 2019 to perform for the lively crowd. 

When reflecting on these experiences, Burden said the atmosphere was energetic and loving, and the show itself served as an act of community-building. 

“Drag helped me to play with the idea of gender and wonder about gender in more different ways than I had in the past,” Burden said. “Performing helped me do that for one night, which is really fun.”

DeAngelis said Spectrum’s drag show was originally introduced to Lehigh to create a space for people to perform and interact with one another in a positive setting that embraces unique identities.

While many students are able to lean on the Pride Center as a place of comfort, DeAngelis said Spectrum is more directly run by students, giving the club a more social aspect that allows queer students to find a community within Lehigh. 

John Blake, ‘23, secretary of Spectrum, said being a part of the club for four years has been one of his most fulfilling college experiences. 

Blake helped plan and lead the drag show, which he said is one of Spectrum’s biggest events. He said the show is important for the Lehigh community because it dedicates a place for queer students. 

Spectrum hosts several events each semester, but DeAngelis said the drag show is one of her personal favorites.  

She said the most exciting part is having a bunch of people who are passionate about drag in one inclusive space.  

In preparation for the show, Burden said Spectrum hosts several rehearsals to ensure the show runs smoothly. The club also covers makeup tips and performance advice, among other help.

“The support that’s given to every person at all steps of the performance process is amazing,” Burden said. 

Jake Montgomery, ‘25, a member of Spectrum who performed in the drag show, delivered a high-energy performance as his character “Mother Monty” that thrilled the crowd. 

Montgomery said his motivation to perform came from a class he had taken called “Gender and Drag.”

“It really opened my eyes to a lot more than I already imagined,” Montgomery said. “Also, seeing people perform last year was very inspiring to me.”

He said attending events like drag is the best way to gain exposure to things with which people may not be familiar.

Montgomery said it is important now more than ever for events like these to be hosted and attended due to the climate surrounding gender and drag. He said there is a need for people to appreciate drag for its larger purpose. 

Blake said events similar to drag shows serve to honor the history of the queer community on campus and highlight parts of Lehigh that are not always brought to the forefront.

“The drag show ultimately gives a space for people to feel seen, represented and not have to worry about being judged for who they are or who they want to be,” Blake said.

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