In New York City in the 1980s, one of the most influential subcultures was the drag ball scene, where African American and Hispanic gay men, drag queens and transgender women "walked" the runway, danced and strove to "pass" in competitions. These pageants came on the sequined heels of their predecessors dating back to Harlem around the turn of the century, and became safe places for LGBTQ people of color to express themselves and be supported by their drag families. The influence of the drag ball scene permeates today's culture — gay and otherwise. If you've ever "vogued," told someone to "werk it," said "yass, queen" or threw some "shade," you owe that parlance to these queens of color.
Now, paying homage to those who paved the way, Humboldt State University's Queer Student Union presents the Age of AQUEERius Ball and Queer Cabaret on Friday, Feb. 17 from 6 to 11 p.m. in the Kate Buchanan Room (free). The all-ages event is emceed by local drag diva Mantrikka HO and features performances by Circus of the Elements, Ophelia Cox, Jenna SeKwa, Alicia Lovejoy, Rico Suave, Raulin, Tucker Noir, Demi Fluxx, Hugh Johnson, April Shower, Deanie Babie and more. The ball portion, which includes the categories Kingest King, Queenest Queen and Queerest Queer, takes place at 7 p.m., followed by the cabaret at 9 p.m. Yass, queen.