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Monday, June 22, 2015

OSU 'Beaver Queen' student graduation story read by parents in student newspaper

Lucille S. Balls graduates in OSU Barometer, Sat. Jun. 13, 2015, p. 6

PHOTO: The graduation of the Oregon State University student Luke Kawasaki, winner of the campus "Beaver Queen" drag competition, is featured in a special gradation day edition of the OSU student newspaper that is read by tens of thousands of parents, relatives and friends: See story by Arturo W. R. Segesman, "Lucille S. Balls says goodbye to OSU," OSU Barometer, Sat. Jun. 13, 2015, p. 6 and Heather Turner, "Beaming with pride: Luke Kawasaki takes center stage in OSU LGBTQ community, Commencement 2015," posted Jun. 11, 2015.

I recall seeing a drag act for the first time nearly half a century ago and I must admit that I didn't get it and I had no desire to do it -- in fact, gay liberationists at the time were viciously rejecting drag queens because they supported the stereotype that all gay men are effeminate, swishing, girly men who really want to be women, which was a stereotype that early gay rights activists found hard to break. Luke and other younger activists have proven that society has been able to get beyond these stereotypes and still remain sensitive to the offensives parts of drag:

After putting on makeup, a wig, a dress and a pair of striking high heels, Luke Kawasaki becomes Lucille S. Balls, winner of the Beaver Queen Pageant 2012.

Kawasaki, a senior majoring in human development and family science with a minor in queer studies, is a student staff member at the Pride Center, a member of the rainbow continuum and has hosted the drag show at Oregon State University for the past three years. . . .

Kawasaki grew up in Klamath Falls, a city in South Central Oregon. While growing up, the only times he could do drag was on Halloween, but now he has the courage to be himself and do drag comfortably whenever he likes. . .

(Quoted from Arturo W. R. Segesman, "Lucille S. Balls says goodbye to OSU," OSU Barometer, Sat. Jun. 13, 2015, p. 6)

-- Plus see the following articles and links:

Luke was also featured in another OSU publication read by parents and the public:

Growing up in what he calls a conservative community of Klamath Falls, Ore., College of Public Health and Human Sciences senior Luke Kawasaki says life wasn't easy after coming out to friends and family as a teen in middle school. . . .

Years later, when he packed his bags and moved into the INTO OSU building right across the street from the OSU Pride Center, he was filled with relief.

He landed a job at the Pride Center as an office assistant, where he worked to create a warm, welcoming and safe environment for the Oregon State LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community. He was promoted to the leadership team as the external coordinator and later as the leadership liaison, where he engages OSU's campus on the intersectional issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and ability.

"My time as leadership liaison has really helped me look at the work I do as being part of a larger anti-racist, anti-heterosexist, anti-misogynistic and anti-transphobic movement," he says. "Looking at social work as being a part of this movement gives me hope that tangible changes can be made in the lives of queer people of color, and that I will be able to contribute to the amazing work that is being done already."

Majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences, Luke is minoring - in the first graduating class - in Queer Studies. . .

"Sitting in Milam Auditorium listening to Kathy Greaves openly discuss topics of sexuality and sex really shook me," he says. "I was excited that there are professors who are willing to engage in a topic so visceral and taboo as sex and sexuality. It was then that I realized this major was really right for me." . .

Being versatile and dynamic perfectly describe Luke - also known on stage as OSU's local drag queen, Lucielle. Luke takes on the persona of Lucielle with more than a desire to express himself through dress that suits him best - he uses the stage as a platform to reject gender norms and make powerful political statements. . .

"Drag is more than just getting on stage in high heels and a gorgeous dress with makeup on my face," he says. "I use drag to tell the world that gender queer and trans bodies are not something to be feared or ignored. There is so much violence that is enacted onto trans bodies, and being able to resist that violence and bring that conversation to Oregon State University is why drag is so important to me."

In addition to winning the drag competition at OSU in 2012 and hosting the shows since being crowned, he was also a star in OSU's Dancing with the Stars in 2013 and hosted the Red Dress Fashion Show in collaboration with Student Health Services for World AIDS Day in 2014. . .

(Quoted from Heather Turner, "Beaming with pride: Luke Kawasaki takes center stage in OSU LGBTQ community, Commencement 2015," posted Jun. 11, 2015)