CSU drag performer helps others love, embrace identities

Matt Leseman

Colorado State University aims to embrace all people by community members and students working to make sure everyone is represented.

Every semester, the LGBTQ organization Prism of CSU hosts an official drag show in the Lory Student Center. The event is one of the biggest of its kind in Colorado and creates a space where the audience and performers can explore and celebrate their identities. That’s part of the reason why CSU student Alex Salazar, a senior human development and family studies major, began performing in 2017 as Queenie.

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“They don’t just showcase drag queens,” Salazar said. “They showcase. . . drag queens, drag kings, cisgendered people, straight people, queer people and gender non-conforming people.”

Salazar, a 4th-year human development and family studies major, identifies as a cisgendered gay male, but uses female pronouns while performing as Queenie. He said he’s thankful to have discovered his own identity relatively early on.

“I was lucky enough to be aware of who I am, so I know my pronouns. I know my identity,” Salazar said. “I just sort of knew from an early age that this is who I am.”

I would like to use my drag platform as a way to say ‘you can be who you are’ because if you’re 9 years old and you know you’re gay, or you’re 10 and you know you’re transgender, you should be able to talk about that…I want to work on developing a platform for people inside and outside of the (LGBTQ) community so that there can be more conversations and less assumptions.”-Alex Salazar, senior human development and family studies major

From as early as six years old, Salazar said he had crushes on his older brother’s friends, and at the age of 12, he told himself for the first time that he was gay. After that, he struggled with himself to decide who he could tell about his identity. Eventually, at 17, Salazar came out to the world. He said he wants to become a counselor and use his drag to help people discover and accept their identities the same way he did.

Drag performer of the PRISM drag show in dramatic drag makeup.
Alex Salazar, also known by the stage name Queenie, in drag makeup.
(Credit| Alejandro Salazar)

“I would like to use my drag platform as a way to say ‘you can be who you are’ because if you’re nine years old and you know you’re gay, or you’re 10 and you know you’re transgender, you should be able to talk about that,” Salazar said. “I want to work on developing a platform for people inside and outside of the (LGBTQ) community so that there can be more conversations and less assumptions.”

Salazar said that assumptions about drag and the CSU drag show prevent many people from attending.

Drag is an art form,” Salazar said. “More than it is this sort of taboo, underground bar scene that a lot of social media portrays it as.”

This misconception that drag shows are explicit and sexually-driven performances carries over to the rest of the LGBTQ community. Salazar said harmful assumptions like these can be fought through discussion with people inside the community.

“…educate yourself by actually talking to a trans person, or talking to a non-binary person, or talking to someone who doesn’t use ‘he’ or ‘she’ pronouns.”-Alex Salazar, senior human development and family studies major.

“I think it’s important to educate yourself,” Salazar said. “Not just looking online, but educate yourself by actually talking to a trans person, or talking to a non-binary person, or talking to someone who doesn’t use ‘he’ or ‘she’ pronouns.”

Salazar said most drag queens are easy to have a conversation with and very open to talking about their art. He particularly looks up to Jessica L’Whor and Evelyn Evermoore, two prominent queens in Denver who also hosted the 2018 fall drag show at CSU.

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“(Jessica) is very popular online, but she’s also very respectable in person,” Salazar said. “She’s very easy to talk to and very warm and welcoming. I think that something that makes both of them stand out is their large amount of inclusiveness. They are open to discussing sexual topics, identities and gender pronouns. So I think that’s one of the reasons I really look up to them.”

Salazar plans on graduating in Spring 2019 then heading into the field of family counseling. He says he’ll return to CSU later to earn his master’s degree. As for Queenie, folks will be able to catch her at Prism’s drag show in the Spring and at various other drag shows around Fort Collins.

More information about Prism and their drag show can be found on their facebook page. Another dancer from the show, Kyra Hill, can be seen via the Humans of CSU series on CTV’s Youtube channel, CTV channel 11. 

Matt Leseman can be reached at ctv@collegian.com or on Twitter, @Matt_Leseman.