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Saturday, February 14, 2015

OSU Beaver's Digest replaces Beaver yearbook R.I.P. features LGBT students

PHOTO: The display ad for the "Beaver Yearbook Moving Sale," as printed in the student newspaper for Oregon State University, Feb. 13. 2015, p. 8, is shown next to inside pages of the first edition of a print magazine publication that is replacing the century old college yearbook. The first edition of Beaver's Digest OSU's student life magazine included two articles related to traditional activities by LGBT student groups on campus: "Rainbow Continuum: Fabulous, Darling," Beaver's Digest, Vol. 1, Issue 1, p. 10-11 posted as "Feeling Fabulous," Nov. 8, 2014 and another article about the annual drag show for AIDS: "Red Dress Fashion Show: Strike a pose. Strike down AIDS," Beaver's Digest, Vol. 1, Issue 1, p. 36-37. (See Oregon State University Beaver's Digest abut page accessed Feb. 14, 2015)

VIDEO: Oregon State University "Student Health Services teamed up with the business school's Oregon State University fashion organization to put on their fifth annual World AIDS Day Red Dress Fashion Show." Source: Barefoot Island Beauty, "Red Dress Fashion Show | Oregon State University," posted Aug 13, 2014

"The lights dimmed in the auditorium to alert the crowd that the show was about to begin. The audience's murmurs turned into silence as two spotlights shone down on the queens standing on stage. . . Rainbow Continuum, the longest-running lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQQIA) club at Oregon State, puts on a drag show every fall and spring term. The show has usually been held at the LaSells Stewart Center, where they transform Austin Auditorium's stage with multi-colored lights and a catwalk. According to Vickie Zeller, co-director of Rainbow Continuum, scouting out queens and kings is the biggest part of putting on the show." (Quoted from Tracie Allan, "Rainbow Continuum: Fabulous, Darling," Beaver's Digest, Vol. 1, Issue 1, p. 10-11 posted as "Feeling Fabulous," Nov. 8, 2014)

I vividly recall in the 1960's seeing my first drag show in what I didn't realize at the time was a gay bar full of closeted homosexuals. I appreciated the performance art, but I didn't know until later about the long history of drag and association of drag with "theatre people and homosexuals," and drag still appears to be a common cultural tradition among young LGBT people today. Gay liberation activists and feminists of the 1970's tried to hide the drag performance tradition because it demeaned women and made LGBT people look abnormal to the general population, which resulted in many transgendered people feeling left out of the early movement. I find it heartening that in the social setting of a politically conservative rural state college, LGBT students can put on a drag show freely and also make it a popular money-making event that is popular for straight frat boys to attend. This proves the old adage, "gay boys know how to put on a show and a party." The yearbook tradition has been made obsolete by social media, such as Facebook, but drag performance art survives alive and well, despite all of the changes in culture and society over thousands of years. This fact still amazes me.