Drag performance at Notre Dame causes controversy, protests

NOW: Drag performance at Notre Dame causes controversy, protests

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Catholic prayers and Lady Gaga lyrics echoed throughout the campus of Notre Dame Friday night, all in response to a drag performance.

The show starred Blair St. Clair, a well-known drag performer who competed in the popular show ‘Ru Paul’s Drag Race’.

Despite University President Father John Jenkins saying the show is protected by Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression, it was met by backlash from the local religious community.

“Institutionally, Notre Dame does have a mission and there is a truth to the human body,” says a student organizer of the protest/prayer presence, Merlot Fogarty. “Male and female are objective and drag does not in any way support that biological reality.”

They argue that drag does not celebrate the true identity of a woman.

We’ve seen this huge move of women who are afraid to identify with their femininity because of how much pressure there is on women to be a certain way, to look a certain way,” Fogarty explains.

The drag queen at the center of it all, Blair St. Clair, a widely known performer in the space, says it’s not the first time she’s seen backlash, and she knows it’s not the last.

“I definitely welcome anyone’s opinion, opinions are always welcomed in a free country, but it is sad to see that people don’t understand the people behind the art form of what drag is,” says the drag performer, Blair St. Clair.

She hopes people that don’t understand the art form will become more open minded on what drag truly is.

“I think drag is such a healing nature for some folks because they are able to escape from life and are able to create this character that they can present to the universe and the world and also carry a message in their performance,” explains Blair St. Clair.

The controversial show leaves conservative members of the campus community questioning what other events the university might allow in the future.

“It’s really amazing that the University, even though they have religions views, still welcome people to be people,” Blair St. Clair says.

“We’re not here to attack anyone or to attack the dignity of people who hold different opinions than us, we are really here to embrace them and pray for them,” says Madelyn Stout, another student organizer.

In a statement, the University says the show was protected by Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression because the show was part of a ‘History of Drag’ class offered by the University.

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