A planned drag show at the University of San Diego has been called “sexually perverse” by a USD graduate who wants the show cancelled.
“The teachings on Catholic social justice do not align with this event, and anyone with a formed Christian conscience cannot approve an event that is sexually perverse,” said lawyer Charles LiMandri, a Rancho Santa Fe lawyer, USD graduate and former member of the alumni board.
But University President Mary Lyons, in a letter published in the California Catholic Daily, said the show is meant to “foster students’ understanding of, and empathy for, the complexities of gender non-conformity.”
Allowing the show on campus does not imply that the university is “advocating or promoting a lifestyle and behaviors inconsistent with the teachings of the Christian church,” Lyons said.
The planned drag show is in fact only one facet of the evening. There will be a presentation by Dr. Lori Watson on the history, role and meaning of “drag” in United States culture and following the PRIDE sponsored drag show a question and answer session with the performers will occur. The drag show is designed to be educational and and to foster a greater understanding of the history of gender nonconformity. While 200 tickets were made available for the event on April 10, the event sold out in a matter of hours — so clearly there is a demand.
LiMandri, so upset by the University’s planned drag show, has launched his own website and has been collecting signatures in order to try and throw some weight behind his campaign to have this “scandalous event” cancelled. He claims to have collected 7,500 names for the cause, though the petition site being used does not prevent anyone from signing based on location or affiliation so it would seem LiMandri is welcoming signatures from anyone with no obvious barrier to repeated signatures.
Regardless, he says on the website:
Many of us feel [Catholic values] have been compromised by having events on campus such as gay dances, and speakers and programs promoting abortion and same-sex marriage; however, enough is enough. What will be next, the obscene plays and pornographic gay film festivals that they have at other universities? As the English philosopher Edmund Burke said: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
He doesn’t cite which “pornographic gay film festivals” or “other universities” he’s referring to.
However, a counter movement has sprung up called A USD For Everyone which was reportedly started after a number of former students took to Facebook to voice their support for the drag event. They have since been joined by USD Alumni Board members, San Diego city council member Todd Gloria, an Episcopal priest, and former student government officials.
Nicholas Severson, a USD Alum, Class of 2007, and former Associated Students Vice President, said he has never been prouder of his USD community:
“I am not only confident that this event will be informative to all students,” he said in a press release, ”but I also believe it will help the LGBT students know that their identity is affirmed by the community. I am inspired by their spirit of inclusion and hope we will see a conversion of heart so that all of members, both past and present see the beauty of a diverse and celebratory community.”