September 30, 2020

BY JESSICA LANTHIER

There was no way of missing it. It was as noticeable as the frigid mid-January air and as electric as the vibrating pulse of the music inside the building.
From the very first moment of walking into the Bomb Shelter Pub at the University of Waterloo (UW) for the famous “Drag Me to the Bomber” event on Jan. 25, you feel accepted and not-judged. Then there was the feeling of being at peace and exhilarated at the same time, thanks in part to the drag queens.
Dressed in a sequined Minnie mouse tank top and an assortment of skin-tight slinky dresses and sky-high heels, the fierce and fabulous stars were confident and seemed right at home.
According to Erin Finlay, a 22-year-old cosmetic techniques and management student at Sheridan College in Oakville, the Drag Me to the Bomber event was intended to be much more than an entertaining night to observe the flamboyant drag queens.
“I think the underlying message about the event is that this is a place where people who feel like outcasts can be the superstars,” she said.
Finlay, who was visiting her friend from the Waterloo area, believes that it doesn’t matter if a person is a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. However, if they need a safe haven, this is a place where they would find it.
The comfortable yet exhilarating vibe at the Drag Me to the Bomber event is probably one of the reasons why the UW Glow organizes it. And it is definitely why members of the Kitchener-Waterloo LGBT community keep coming back.
Alexander DiGronimo, a first-year psychology student at the University of Waterloo, chose to get his education there for many reasons. He liked the close proximity to his family in Toronto, the classes he would be attending for his program and, most importantly, he liked the positive things he heard about UW’s freedom of expression.
DiGronimo, who is an openly gay 21-year-old, said his cousin, who graduated from UW in 2007, praised the LGBT groups at the school which helped him decide to accept UW’s offer.
Since moving to the Kitchener-Waterloo area in September, DiGronimo has joined many LGBT clubs and feels comfortable and accepted, just like he did the night of the drag show.
“We came here to let loose, be ourselves and be in the company of other cool people who feel the same,” he said.
Kate Smith, a 22-year-old fourth-year student studying sexuality, marriage and family studies at the university, attended the event because she had never been to a drag show before and thought it would be a great experience.
“I am a supporter of all things LGBTQ, so this was another chance for me to submerge my heterosexual self in the queer life,” she said.
Smith, who is also an intern at Lutherwood in Cambridge and a student counsellor at Southwood Secondary School, thinks it’s important that the university organizes events like this because members of the queer community have experienced discrimination and stereotyping for far too long.
“It is about time that society accepts that LGBTQ individuals are people too, and deserve the right to have fun, just as straight people do.”
According to Smith, the queer community is beginning to become more accepted, but they still have a long way to go.
“I think society is just coming out of their heterosexual box and people are understanding that there is more to life than just simple male-female relationships,” she said.
“I think the next step in acceptance of all LGBTQ individuals is understanding gender and sexuality more comprehensively.”