2021’s Three Day Equality Gala

Moving virtually inhibited the physical dance, but allowed for guest speakers that helped foster a sense of community.

Bri Hatch

What’s your favorite cereal? Which Powerpuff Girl would you be? If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

These are just some of the questions that Shea Coulee, winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars in Season 5, asked students who won Drag Bingo – the main event for the 2021 Equality Gala.

“My favorite part was when Shea would interview the bingo winners because it was fun seeing her personality through the questions she wanted to ask us,” said Molly Ribbeck ‘24. “I also loved her enthusiasm, especially when she’d exclaim ‘can I get a hell yeah?’ before each bingo round.”

The 2021 Equality Gala looked different this year than in years past. Usually, a week of tabling to sell tickets and merchandise would lead to the main event: a dance with the dress code “come as you are” and a drag show in the middle, according to Pamela Steimel ‘22, co-vice president of the Queer Liberation Alliance (QLA).

This year, due to coronavirus, the gala became a three-day virtual event from March 10 through March 12. On Wednesday, QLA met with Rockbridge County High Schools’ Sex and Gender Association. On Thursday, QLA hosted an informal Jackbox game night. The headliner event was Drag Bingo, hosted by Shea Coulee, held on Friday.

“The Equality Gala is an important event for QLA and the community at large because it enables all of us to get together and have fun in a space where we know we are all celebrated for who we are,” Steimel said. “It’s a great bridge between queer people at W&L, and between queer people at W&L and in the community.”

Coulee emceed five rounds of Drag Bingo, and hosted a lip sync battle in the middle. Music was playing, people were dancing, and the chat box was full of commentary.

“The bingo night was really upbeat and happy which is something we all need right now,” said Rinn Joireman ‘21, a winner of one bingo round.

Each year, the money raised through ticket sales for the gala is donated towards a community organization, according to Steimel. Donations this year went to the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center. The event raised over $1 thousand, according to an announcement by Coulee during bingo.

The 2021 Equality Gala was sponsored and hosted by the QLA, LGBTQ Resource Center, Student Activities, and the Office of Inclusion and Engagement.

“I think events like this are important, as they provide a space to students who may not feel as though they have a place on campus,” said PT Meadors ‘24. “I think that the Drag Bingo event brought a lot of people together in a wonderful way and I thought it was beautiful.”