A group of 30 high school students and teachers in Vermont strutted, spun, and sashayed down the runway to a pulsing techno beat as they performed a special drag show before an enthusiastic audience during halftime of their team’s homecoming football game last week.
The Gender-Sexuality Alliance club at Burlington High School planned the event and teamed up with students from South Burlington High School for the well-received performance. Burlington and South Burlington High Schools come together with Winooski High School to form their Seawolves football team, and the drag show took place during halftime of last Friday’s game.
Andrew LeValley, English teacher and GSA advisor at Burlington High, came up with the idea as a way to soften the football experience for some.
"I think it's hard for boys to express an effeminate side of themselves, and often that might be the side they love the most," LeValley told local publication Seven Days. "So this is a moment for them to literally put that on for the world to see, and take a few minutes and walk down a runway and be proud."
He took the idea to the faculty and students, who quickly offered their support. Athletic director Quaron Pinkney told the Associated Press he suggested the show take place during halftime at the homecoming game, saying wanted to give back to the school and "uplift the voices of another marginalized group and share a space in the athletics realm that doesn’t normally get shared."
Ezra Totten, a senior at Burlington High and her school’s GSA student leader, told the AP "the stands were completely packed" and described the experience as "amazing" and "heartwarming."
"I was just really hoping to give our students, who are both out and the students that were in the stands who are not out, a moment to shine and feel loved, and know that there is a place for them in public schools," LeValley, who did his best Marie Antionette impersonation during the event, told the AP after the show.
Totten told Seven Days she felt affirmed and reassured by the enthusiastic reception the drag show received from the crowd.
"It shows the Burlington community is there for each other," Totten said.