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Penn State’s Opulence Proves Drag Queens Are The Future Of Art & Expression

Penn State’s Opulence club is setting the stage for LGBTQ+ art and paving the way for future drag queens in Happy Valley.

The group was founded in the spring of 2018 by Chris Castro (drag name Hexxa), Seneca Hill, Colin Miller (Absinthe), Ricky Watts (Bonzai Bucket), DJ Etzi (Daisy Oopsy), and Luke Nosal (Laurel Charleston).

The founding students were in LGBTQA Student Roundtable, a club dedicated to addressing current events and major topics within the LGBTQ+ community. Through the roundtable, they held drag shows, and with the growing popularity and admiration for the shows, they soon formed Opulence.

Opulence is made of Penn State’s drag ambassadors who support art made by the LGBTQ+ community through fundraisers, makeup socials, Q&As, and shows with famous drag queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” They host drag shows on and off campus to reach a larger audience and set the foundation for future queens and drags fans.

“We believe in the deconstruction of the traditional gender binary and the celebration of historically marginalized people through the entertaining art of drag which can be conveyed through makeup, costume, and full-body performance,” Opulence President Amara Eke said.

The club’s mission is to bring LGBTQ+ art and appreciation to the community and, overall, enhance the Penn State arts and theatre culture. Opulence facilitates encouraging and creative spaces for individuals to express themselves. It actively works with its members to find their drag personas, teach makeup hacks, style wigs, and create outfits, all while having a community to lean on.

“[Opulence is] completely made by and for drag lovers who are actively participating in bringing more drag to the mainstream,” Eke said. “We are highlighting art made by the queer community at Penn State, which we believe to be one of the highest forms of entertainment, showing campus the wealth of talent, passion, confidence, and creativity our drag performers possess”.

This year, the club has remained dedicated to its members. Members have shifted their shows to a virtual platform to continue providing a space for members to participate in shows and share the beauty and excitement of drag to the Penn State community.

Opulence hosted a virtual alumni show, which featured its founding queens. The show was one of the group’s biggest events this year, and it represented the progress they have made in advocating for LGBTQ+ art.

“The virtual alumni show was very fun and felt like a full-circle moment as the current president who looked up to [the founding queens] as a young freshman,” Eke said.

In February, Opulence collaborated with Penn State’s Student Programming Association (SPA) to feature famous drag queen Monét X Change in one of its drag shows. Student drag queens took to the stage and performed in stunning outfits and makeup to a song of their choice. Monét X Change closed the night with an energic performance and rightfully left everyone wanting more.

Opulence encourages students who are interested in drag, whether they are experienced drag performers or new to it, to be a part of their organization. The group had its first in-person, socially distanced show this week and plans to hold meetings, socials, and drag shows this fall.

Students can follow Opulence on Instagram to stay updated on its events or contact the club through its website if they’d like to join.

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About the Author

Aubrey Miller

Aubrey is a third-year landscape architecture major and a writer for Onward State. She is from North Carolina, but can't stand country music. Aubrey is obsessed with her four cats, and some would say too obsessed. Feel free to follow her on Instagram @aubreymillerr to see her cat posts.

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