“So many students showed up—it was chaos,” says Lova Patterson ’00, director of student activities and adviser of the Eckerd College Queer-Straight Alliance. The following year, the event was moved to Fox Hall to accommodate the large number of students that attend, and it has been held there ever since.
Patterson has seen a lot in her 22 years of working at Eckerd. One of the most meaningful, however, has been Pride Week, which she has overseen for the past 15 years. Events this April included a gender-affirming clothing swap, “Queer-aoke” and the annual drag show.
In the past, events have included a trivia night, performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and “Smash the Closet” bonfires, where students smash and burn literal and symbolic closet doors.
This year, the drag show featured three professional performers to open the show: Adriana Sparkle, Eros Kiss and Spikey Van Dykey. The pros also judged the 16 student performers competing in four categories: King, Queen, Monarch and Court.
Winners of the crowns and a total of $250 in prize money included senior Atlas Chambers for Drag King, junior John Ormsby for Drag Queen, junior Ellery Overstreet for Monarch, and juniors Zoe O’Brien and Izzy Connerly for Court.
“[The] drag show, for me, was personally a really fun experience because I got to do something that I never even dreamed of doing in Tennessee …,” William explains. “I always knew I was a performer. I never knew I would ever even enjoy drag.”
In the coming years, Patterson hopes to continue to make Pride Week bigger and better and to create safe spaces for students. “It’s very important for everybody in this community to know that there’s something for them.”