By Anthony King | GSD Editor
Members of PRIDE, the LGBT-inclusive organization at University of San Diego (USD), are sponsoring a series of education events in April addressing gender identity and gender expression. One event – a drag show scheduled for Wednesday, April 11 – is causing controversy, including the launch of an anti-gay e-mail campaign by one USD alumnus.
In response, a second campaign has been launched, this one from a group of USD alumni in support of the April 11 event. Called A USD for Everyone, the web-based campaign encourages alumni to e-mail and call the University’s president, Mary Lyons, to thank the administration. “In your communication, tell President Lyons and the USD administration that you are alum [and] that you appreciate what they are trying to do to make USD an inclusive place for every member of the USD community,” the web site states.
Called the first-ever drag show for USD, the April 11 event includes a student drag competition, including lip-sync, runway and question and answer segments. Local drag queen Tootie Nefertootie will be hosting the event, with a guest performer yet to be announced. The event is being held on the University campus, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Co-signers for A USD for Everyone include the current president of the USD Young Alumni Network, Lauren Crawford, and District Three Councilmember Todd Gloria, among other alumni. Gloria graduated from USD in 2000.
“Many of us are alums who have worked together at USD to ensure that our alma mater was an inclusive community. Our jobs didn’t end as students. As alums, we have the responsibility to ensure USD remains a place for everyone,” the web site states.
The A USD for Everyone campaign was started in response to Chuck LiMandri’s campaign, Alumni for a Catholic USD. LiMandri, who graduated from USD in 1977, launched the web-based campaign with an open letter to USD alumni asking them to contact Lyons to protest the event. “We need your help for a few minutes to stop a grievous injury to the Body of Christ,” the web site states.
Calling the event “corrupt and corrupting,” the web site then states, “Only by working together as we have done in the past, as with the successful campaigns to save the Mt. Soledad Cross (Prop. A) and traditional marriage (Prop. 8), can we prevail in redeeming our culture and defending our faith.”
The PRIDE gender identity events in April include a presentation on April 11 by Dr. Lori Watson on the history, role and meaning of drag in United States culture; participation in the national Day of Silence on April 19 and 20 where students pledge to remain silent in an effort to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools; as well as a April 4 workshop, titled “Transgender 101: Fostering Allyship.”