Go get your drag on

by Anya Jaremko-Greenwold

DRAGrango is the first event of its kind in our fair town; a drag competition and fundraiser for the 2016 Durango Pride Festival. People of any age and gender can participate in the competition at the Strater, and one drag king and one queen will be crowned victorious by the end of the night. Former Durangoan Ammon Swofford is hosting as “Alice Glamoure,” his feminine drag persona; Swofford was actually the first drag queen to emerge on the local scene several years back, when he attended Fort Lewis College.

The event is family friendly, thus all performers are asked to keep it respectable. “We wanted it to be open, so that if high-schoolers or college students who are under 18 wanted to come, they could,” said Kristi Dean, coordinator for Durango Pride 2016 and board member of the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity.

This year will mark Durango’s seventh annual pride festival, although the LGBT community has been active here for much longer. “I think there still needs to be some education for certain concerns, like transgendered people and what their lives are like,” said Dean. The Rainbow Youth Center gives local kids a safe place to go after school, and several Durango high schools have gay-straight alliances. “It’s all about trying to co-exist in our environment, making it a nice place for everybody to live,” said Dean.

If you are fiercely competitive and looking to win, you gotta make a personal connection with your fans. “It’s all about getting the audience to interact with you,” said Dean. “Audience appeal. Get them to love you on stage, just like in any other theater performance.”

Durango Pride is also concerned with social justice. “We’ve got the marriage ballot, but we want to continue and maintain that through the new election,” said Dean. “It’s brand new, and could easily be taken away. We want people to understand that it’s still what we need.” The purpose of a Pride Festival is to celebrate inclusivity and promote diversity, allowing townspeople the chance to support Durango’s thriving LGBT community – even if you aren’t a part of it yourself.

The Pride Fest’s next event in May will be an even bigger fundraiser, for which local artists are creating night stands to be auctioned off. The corresponding gala has been dubbed “A One Night Stand,” and tickets are available now.

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