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Exploration of the Unknown

Shaiya Tucker

Arizona State University

SWU 180: Intro to LGBT Studies


Exploration of the Unknown

Having never been to a Pride sponsored event I was full of trepidation, yet extremely

liberated as I would be stepping outside the boundaries of my comfort zone. As I eagerly awaited

the start of the show many questions ran through my mind. Will I feel accepted? Will I offend

the LGBTQ community with my attendance? Will I be asked questions pertaining to my

sexuality? Does my sexuality even matter? Unsure, whether or not my questions held any

validity I believed that I owed it to myself to discover what was unknown.

June 1, 2019 at 7pm sharp marked the day that I stepped out of my comfort zone and

attended a showing hosted by Tucson Pride. The event took place at The Screening Room

located in downtown Tucson, kicking off the first day of festivities within my community.

Overwhelmed by feelings of anticipation, my Fiancé decided to join me on my quest and offered


his support. Before we could even open the door we were instantly welcomed with an elaborate

greeting by some of the Drag Queens and Kings, which were set to perform. The warm welcome

that we received set the tone and surely helped to alleviate some of the anxiety that I had felt

leading up to the show. I had never seen a Drag Queen/King in person and was appreciably

intrigued by their hair, makeup, fashion and mystique. In that moment I truly felt out of place as

I was surrounded by so many glamorous individuals. Standing there feeling underdressed, I soon

began to understand why my Fiancé had put so much effort into his outfit and spent what felt like

hours getting ready. Fortunately, my insecurities quickly dissipated and we headed inside as the

show was ready to commence. The audience was filled with men, women, and families with their

children. Before taking this course I may have thought the children sitting amongst the audience

was inappropriate but with my new found knowledge of youth, their independence along with

their level of maturity I truly appreciated the diversity and inclusion that filled the room. As

everyone began to settle in their seats, the host of the evening came out and introduced herself

and I couldn’t help but to smile from ear to ear. My nerves had disappeared and it just felt good

to be a part of such a time in history where individuals are able to perform and be themselves or

alter ego in a safe environment free of judgement.

The theme of the show was “A Night at the Movies” and for me it surely was. As the

Queens and Kings performed hit songs from their favorite movies I was instantly entertained.

However, this was not the only reason why their performances captured my attention. I was

captivated by the meaning of the songs and the performers performed with such conviction. As

one of the Drag Queens performed the projector behind her read “Shame on you for shaming

others”. These words were empowering and made all of my fears of being judged for being

different fade away. I learned that night that the LGBTQ group is not an exclusive community

but an inclusive community, by welcoming anyone and everyone despite ones sexual preference

or gender. I felt safe and free of judgment. As a woman of color I have always felt as though I

was the minority from both a racial and gender standpoint. However, in the presence of such a

wonderful community it was nice to feel that anyone who felt like a minority was now a part of

the majority. This was a feeling I had never experienced and it was addictive. During the show I

laughed, cried and simultaneously did both but it was a time that I will always remember and

never forget.

My overall ideology of Drag Queens and Kings unreservedly changed as I was only used

to seeing these talented performers on the television screen. I did not realize the amount of

courage that it takes to get on stage in front an audience and perform. My initial perception

before having seen the show was that Drag Queens and Kings were an extreme over

exaggeration of femininity and masculinity. However, as the night went on I realized that this

idea could not have been further from the truth. My eyes were pierced opened, when a young

teenager born a male but in the process of transitioning to female let the audience in by sharing

her story. She explained that this was her first performance and she was afraid that she would be

judged because that is what she had experienced all of her life. She thanked the audience for

allowing her to live her truth and to be free from ridicule and shame. I quickly realized that this

aspect of her life was not just to put on a show or a hobby, but her living her truth. Her courage

was extremely commendable and admirable.

In all honesty I was not expecting to be so deeply touched by the performances and gain

such profound insight into the lives and experiences of those within the LGBTQ community. It

was joyous to hear LGBTQA. A- Standing for advocate or ally which I now consider myself. I

can now say with the upmost confidence that I am in full support of the LGBTQ community. I

learned not only a tremendous amount of information during the show but we continued to

become more educated well into the intermission, serving as the perfect time to reflect on the

performances. During this time the President of Tucson Pride made her way to the stage to share

information with the audience discussing the history of Tucson Pride and its contributions. I was

absolutely blown away to hear the strides that the organization had made not only for the

LGBTQ community, but for individuals needing help making ends meet and helping those that

are homeless find stable housing. Once again, a demonstration of the true inclusiveness that the

community has for all people.

At the conclusion of the show my Fiancé and I sat down for a debriefing on the night’s

events. We discussed what a great time we had, and how impressive we found the performers,

their willingness to show us that they have a vulnerable side in spite of the confidence that they

projected. We were both motivated to do anything we could do to advocate and support the

LGBTQ community and fellow organizations. My fiancé suggested that we attend other Pride

events during the month to show our support. However, I suggested that we recognize how

fortunate we are to walk down the streets, free of judgement and harassment in regards to our

sexuality. In that moment I realized that we could be a voice for those who were muted. It only

takes one individual to start a trend but it takes a village to start a movement. I knew that I

wanted to be a part of the movement that continues to fight for social justice and equality

amongst all. I want to live in a city, state and world that encompasses that everyone is unique and

that is what makes our world such a great place. I believe that Self-expression and individuality

should be commended and not concealed. As one inspirational Two-Spirit individual once said

you never know who’s looking at you and your presence might change somebody’s social

behavior towards someone else. I can be that someone that changes someone’s social behavior

even it means simply preventing someone from making a derogatory remark or gesture. I was

glad to have attended the show as I became more educated on the adversity, struggles and social

injustice that people within the LGBTQ community continue to face. However, it was powerful

to hear the amount of progress that has been made and the barricades that have been bulldozed. I

truly believe that now is time to take a stance and put my words into action.

Looking back now my feelings of anxiety and worry were valid. This was not because I

was made to feel that way but because it is a normal response when introduced to something new

or unfamiliar. Attending an event hosted by Tucson Pride meant that I was entering unchartered

waters and I am glad that I did. My questions were answered, none of which I had a negative

response for. Will I feel accepted? From the moment I walked through the door I was welcomed

with open arms. Will I offend the LGBTQ community with my presence? Absolutely not, from

the beginning it was made clear that all were welcome to attend and was a safe zone free of

judgement. Will I be asked questions pertaining to my sexuality? I wasn’t, but there were people

asked in the audience and quite honestly there were people of all backgrounds and no one

seemed to care which way or the other. Does my sexuality even matter? I don’t believe so, I

think I could’ve said I was Asexual and no one would have batted an eye. These points are not

even an exhaustive list of reasons as to why I want to show my support for the LGBTQ

community. I will always and continue to stand by any organization, group or community that

promotes inclusion, equality and the determination to seek change against discriminatory social

policies. History is continuing to be made and I am glad that I can be a part of such an impactful

movement that makes it okay to be who you are and live comfortably within your own skin.