The Associated Students Trans & Queer Commission hosted their annual Pride Week from April 7-13 to celebrate the queer community at UC Santa Barbara. 

Hostess and Drag Queen Vivienne Vida walks the runway herself after introducing the fashion categories. Courtesy of TQC

The week consisted of eight events ranging from fashion and drag shows to a queer history panel and movie night. The events centered on this year’s theme: love, legacy, liberation. 

The purpose of the Associated Students (A.S.) Trans & Queer Commission (TQC) Pride Week is to provide a space where queer people can feel empowered on campus, TQC Co-Chair Angellina Querol said.

“[Pride Week] is about empowerment; it’s about showing people that they’re not alone and that there’s a bigger community than they think. And then just having a good time because we deserve joy,” Querol said. 

TQC Administrative Chair and fourth-year sociology major Elijah Ortega said that Pride Week lets people know that other queer people exist at UCSB.

“I almost didn’t come to UCSB because I was afraid that there were no queer people here,” Ortega said. “So, I feel like [Pride Week] helps expose the queer community that does exist here. It lets people know they have a space and that they are welcome on campus.” 

Pride Week kicked off with Rainbow Rollerskating in the UCSB Recreation Center’s Multi-Activity Court on April 7, which Ortega said “had a really good turnout.” Free roller skate rentals were provided.

On April 8, TQC hosted a town hall and game night in the MultiCultural Center Lounge. While turnout for the town hall was not what TQC had hoped for, attendees had the opportunity to provide feedback regarding TQC and campus resources for LGBTQIA+ people. 

The game night centered on Jotería, an LGBTQIA+-themed version of a Mexican board game similar to Bingo called Lotería. Winners received free sex toys as prizes. 

On April 9, TQC held a queer history panel in the Student Resource Building where feminist studies professor Jane Ward and assistant professor Debanuj DasGupta discussed the history of LGBTQIA+ liberation.

Second-year biopsychology major and TQC International Students Engagement Coordinator Allan Ai moderated the panel. He highlighted how conversations on liberation and legacy-building are spurred by educational events in Pride Week’s programming.

“I don’t feel like we can do liberation without thinking of the past, because — as DasGupta said — history is a memory, and sometimes we forget what we have experienced,” Ai said. “It is important to know what happened to us in the past to recall our identity and where we come from.”

On April 10, TQC hosted Reel Proud Movie Night in Isla Vista Theater. They showed the documentary “Kiki” — an unofficial sequel to the 1990 documentary “Paris Is Burning” — and the 2023 comedy “Bottoms.”

TQC’s annual fashion show took place on April 11 in Corwin Pavilion with an audience of 100. The show featured student models wearing outfits for the categories leather and BDSM, punk, genderqueer glam and “cuntry.”

Hostess, Drag Queen Vivienne Vida introduced the fashion categories and walked the runway herself. She gave multiple drag performances and hosted games involving the audience, including lip sync battles, a guess-the-song contest and a best-fit contest. The winners received VIP meet-and-greet tickets for the TQC drag show on April 13. 

On April 12, TQC hosted Queer Prom in the Isla Vista Community Center, featuring DJ Les Ortiz. The theme for the dance was BDSM and leather, which was a homage to the leather subculture in the queer community, according to Ortega.

“[Queer Prom] is just a party and prom for anyone who didn’t get to experience one,” Ortega said.

On April 13, TQC had planned to host Queer Fest in Little Acorn Park. However, due to heavy rainfall, they had to cancel three days before. The commission planned to have free food, live music, a photo booth, over 20 vendors, animal adoption and more. 

TQC was unable to rent canopies and could not find an alternative venue.

“We had to cancel because of the weather but also because of not enough quick support on behalf of Associated Students. We would have to pay for canopies out of pocket and get reimbursed,” Querol said. “You can’t really just spend hundreds of dollars on canopies as a student working part-time.”

A.S. Finance and Business Committee Chair Yael Berukhim did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the logistics of funding TQC Pride Week.

Later in the evening, regardless of weather, was TQC’s annual drag show — their most popular event each year, with tickets selling out on Shoreline days before. After ticketed people were let in, additional people were let in from the walk-in line for a total of 810 people.

UCSB alum and Master of Ceremonies Coco D. Baucherry opened the show. Queen D. Baucherry was a sociology major in the class of 2019 and began her career in drag at Campbell Hall six years ago when they performed for the spring drag show with Trixie Mattel.

D. Baucherry established the ground rules for the night: 1. Tips, 2. Energy and 3. Drinking “only H20.” 

When D. Baucherry performed, the crowd jumped and cheered, waving miniature pride flags in the air that were given out at the entrance. D. Baucherry performed two more times throughout the night, including a performance to “Amor Eterno,” which he dedicated to the Latines in the audience. 

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14’s third finalist Bosco performed second. She wore a lapis blue outfit with red hair and two ostrich feather fans as props. With each article of clothing she removed, the crowd cheered. When “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani came on, the audience sang along with Bosco.

Season 15 of RuPaul’s Drag Race’s third finalist Mistress Isabelle Brooks performed next. Her mere silhouette walking across the stage made the crowd go wild. When the spotlight shone on her in the center of the stage and revealed her tall hair and red dress, the audience screamed in affirmation. 

During her second performance, Brooks invited audience members to crowd around the stage. She walked back and forth, collecting dollar bills and sticking pride flags in her hair as she performed.  

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 10 contestant and RuPaul’s Drag Race: UK vs. the World runner-up Mo Heart performed last. Mo Heart performed in place of her drag daughter, Luxx Noir London, who was unable to come due to an injury. Mo Heart’s first performance was to Beyoncé’s “CHURCH GIRL,” which she coupled with a red dress and a large sparkled cross. For Mo Heart’s last performance, she gave the audience a preview of her new song which will be released on April 20. 

D. Baucherry reflected on her experience after the show.

“Hosting and performing at this year’s show was life-changing; it always is if I’m being honest. It fuels my love for this art form because of the students. They take the time to attend this show because they want nothing more than to feel love, excitement, acceptance and, most of all, to watch a fantastic drag show,” D. Baucherry said. 

Although Ward and DasGupta expressed optimism that Pride Week events are now included in university-sponsored programming, both agreed that the ultimate goal of queer liberation — “liberation for anyone who identifies as queer” in a way that is “total, addressing all of the systems of violence and inequality that are shaping our lives,” according to DasGupta — remains unmet.

“Some changes have happened, and while we have to enjoy and celebrate that, we also have to question that,” DasGupta said. “We need to see the limits and where to go next.”

A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the April 18, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.