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Bullying is a Drag

Dressing up for a cause at NCCC

Last year, recalls Taylor Burts (pictured), the only “out” transgender female at Niagara County Community College, when she wanted to stage a drag show on campus, the administration was reluctant. Despite the pushback, she persisted. The event was such a big success that this year campus leaders came looking for her to do another.

The result is Bullying Is a Drag: A Tribute to Jamey Rodemeyer on Wednesday, March 27 at 6pm, in the NCCC Fine Arts Auditorium.

The free event will feature the talents of nine drag artists, including Burts (in the persona of Te Monet), Sabrina Williams, Wenzday Atemz, and Veronica Lace. The evening will be hosted by Jayme Coxx and is sponsored by GLASS, the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Student Alliance at the NCCC.

The event will be a springboard for the sale of bracelets to raise funds for Jamey’s Hope, a foundation started by the Rodemeyer family, in memory of teenaged Jamey Rodemeyer, who committed suicide in 2011 after constant bullying. Jamey’s Hope seeks to end bullying and prevent suicide.

“I’ve been doing drag shows for many years,” says Burts. “When I saw RuPaul’s Drag Race on television, I realized it wouldn’t be too difficult to go mainstream. Last year’s event at NCCC was so encouraging that I went ahead and formed a campus gay club.

“I feel very lucky in my life,” Burts continues, “and all of this has motivated me to give back. That’s why I’m doing Bullying Is a Drag. Bullying is hurting a lot of people—kids and even adults. The only way to stop it is to increase awareness and to encourage people to speak out. We won’t be done until there is no bullying against anyone. I’ve decided to contribute to this cause through the art of drag.”

In part of the impulse to “give back,” Burts will honor two community leaders at the March 27 event: BUA founder and Artvoice theater columnist Javier Bustillos, and Joey (Guagliardo) Marcella, owner of Club Marcella.

“I was in the BUA production of the musical Quilt, about the AIDS crisis, when I was 14 years old,” says Burts. “It was such an important experience in my life, and I made a lot of long-lasting relationships with that show. The work that BUA does is just so important to our community, and I’m glad to be able to recognize Javier and BUA for what they do. They provide a creative outlet and they bring people together, both to celebrate and to understand the LGBT experience.

“Joey Marcella’s club is a very important venue in our community as well,” Burts continues. “It’s a cornerstone, really. Club Marcella is important for bringing gay and straight people together and for the opportunities it gives individuals in our community for creative expression. Joey will be joining us through Skype. We did the dress rehearsal today! I’m very excited about it.”

The bracelets supporting the event will cost $2. They are available at selected BUA performances and on certain nights at Club Marcella, as well as on the NCCC campus and at the Bullying Is a Drag event. The Wednesday event is free and open to the public.