By Grayson Barnes and Kristi Parker
WICHITA - The month of April has been dubbed “Gaypril” by Wichita State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and Spectrum (the LGBTQ and Allies group there). Various fun, educational, and celebratory events are planned, starting with International Transgender Day of Visibility on Mar. 31, ending with Lavender Graduation on May 4.
Danielle Johnson, the Assistant Director of the ODI said LGBTQ events at WSU previously only lasted a week, but since the beginning of the ODI, they have extended it to more than a month. At that point, the ODI “kind of jacked the name from KU,” laughed Johnson, “but we are incredibly grateful and we tell them that all the time!”
To highlight the month this year, Alyssa Edwards of RuPaul’s Drag Race is hosting the 7th Annual Drag Show. Edwards, whose name is Justin Johnson, has a storied career in the drag world dating back to 2003 when she was crowned the first alternate to Miss Gay Texas.
She followed that up with 11 other titles including four competitions at Miss Gay America, which she won in 2010. She also won Miss Gay USofA in 2006 and All American Goddess in 2010.
She was chosen to appear on the fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Logo in 2012 finishing sixth. She then appeared in season two of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars in 2016, ending in fifth place.
“I remember the beginning of this life-changing experience,” Edwards said recently in response to the newly picked Season 9 performers, “and will forever be grateful. Have a ball. Enjoy the ride and treasure every moment.”
Edwards is very popular for his famous quotes during the show. Many top ten lists appear online including gems such as, "I don’t get cute, I get drop dead gorgeous" and "Don’t get bitter, just get better!"
Justin Johnson, no relation to Danielle, is also known for his award-winning dance company Beyond Belief Dance Company out of Mesquite, TX. The dance company is the centerpiece for a new web-series following Alyssa Edwards titled “Haus of Edwards” premiering in late 2017.
Additional events for the month, other than those listed above, include training opportunities, free STI testing, National Day of Silence, and a film showing. Safe Zone Training and Gender Diversity Training will be offered through the Counseling and Testing Center at WSU, along with GLSEN.
Out Here in Kansas, a short film about Southwestern College graduate and physician Burt Humburg, will be shown April 19 in the CAC Theater.
The Pride Prom, April 14, is a celebration for people who may not be able to attend another prom with their significant other because it is not allowed or even dangerous. It is open to anyone from high school on up.
Other co-sponsors include the Elliott School of Communications, Student Involvement, Student Health Services, Kansas Pathology Consultants, Human Resources, and the Cadman Art Gallery.
For more information on the events, go to wichita.edu/gaypril, or check out the calendar on the previous page. l