bridgeport annual drag show

#UBelong at University of Bridgeport’s Annual Drag Brunch

Few generations have expressed themselves quite like Gen Z. Identity and self-expression are often cited as one of the generation’s hallmark features. For many young people from historically marginalized backgrounds, the embracing of self-identity has encouraged a sense of pride and self-ownership. This is particularly true within the queer community. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 adults born between 1997-2003 identify as LGBTQIA+.

UB is Here for You

University of Bridgeport is a longtime champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 99%* of UB students receive financial aid in the form of scholarships or grants. Furthermore, UB has combatted the rising cost of education by maintaining a flat tuition rate for three consecutive years. This has been of undeniable benefit to our students, 34%* of whom are first-generation and 73%* of whom are students of color.

But at UB, inclusion isn’t just a statistic. This was demonstrated with humor and bravado on Sunday, April 2, 2023, when the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) hosted its third annual Drag Brunch. The Drag Brunch became an essential part of UB’s eclectic campus culture in 2021; former student Timothy Prince first thought to bring this fabulous phenomenon to the university after seeing local restaurants and businesses host similar events.

Entertainment that Enlightens

Arriving at the 2023 Drag Brunch, the students’ energy is palpable. For LGBTQIA+ students, the excitement comes with the promise of a safe space. “This event makes LGBTQIA+ students feel seen and appreciated,” one participant shares. “It’s a great way to bring the gay community out of the shadows.”

Aside from serving as a platform for self-expression and celebration, the Drag Brunch is an opportunity to enlighten other UB students. Many in the audience have never attended a drag performance before, let alone a GSA-hosted event. “A great thing about the Drag Brunch is that it introduces students to communities they may not have thought to introduce themselves to,” one attendee suggests.


Supporting Student Wellness

Drag is an art. The queens performing for the Purple Knights embrace their flair for fabulosity with uproarious punchlines, phenomenal dance moves, and fierce looks. Though the atmosphere may be electrifying, the Drag Brunch is not only entertainment — it also supports student wellness.

The Drag Brunch promotes sexual health and safety by offering UB students free and confidential HIV/AIDS screenings. In the United States, HIV/AIDS has been a major public health concern for over 40 years. In 2020, there were over 10,000 cases of HIV documented across the state of Connecticut. Bridgeport was among the most affected cities in the state, with over 1,000 residents estimated to be living with HIV. LGBTQIA+ communities are most affected by the virus, with individuals of color contracting the disease at the highest rates.

By offering complimentary and confidential screenings, the Drag Brunch not only performs a public health service, but also works to destigmatize HIV/AIDS. It is only by shedding light on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS that we can control its spread and promote safe sexual practices.

Inclusion on Campus

Across the country, LGBTQIA+ college students continue to face an increased risk of isolation, marginalization, and discrimination. Approximately 92% of LGBTQIA+ students report that their college experience has been negatively impacted by mental health struggles. This widespread issue has serious implications; approximately half of all LGBTQIA+ students report a loss of interest in higher education, with 25% of students seriously considering dropping out of school.

Given the varying cultural backgrounds of LGBTQIA+ students, there isn’t one universal answer to address these mental health issues. But for many, increasing the visibility of the queer community at events like UB’s Annual Drag Brunch can create a significant impact. By fostering safe spaces that publicly embrace queer and non-binary identities, colleges and universities can help provide support and resources for LGBTQIA+ students. Better still, it creates a forum in which these students can have their voices heard — sharing their experiences and stories with other young people who can empathize and relate.

At UB, You Belong.

University of Bridgeport hosts a wide variety of clubs and events where students can meet friends, experience new things, and make lifelong memories. From the SPB Carnival to the Pep Rally, there are endless opportunities to embrace UB’s diverse campus culture.

For many LGBTQIA+ students, the Drag Brunch continues to be the main event of the year — a beacon of acceptance and self-expression. “It’s a safe space for students to get together and embrace their identities,” one student shares delightedly. “For many LGBTQIA+ people, it can feel like there isn’t a place for you. Events like this — as well as other health events from the GSA — give you a safe space to get together, celebrate culture, and create a positive and welcoming vibe.”

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*based on 2022-2023 data