Mixed reactions across campus after John Carroll University cancels drag show

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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio -- A sometimes controversial, but always popular, event at John Carroll University has been cancelled just weeks before it was scheduled to happen.

The annual Drag Show started in 2013 and has grown into one of the most attended student functions, says Eddie Jenkins, president of the JCU Student Union Programming Board.

“It is one of our more popular events. We have about 250 people every single year,” said Jenkins, “And, I certainly was disappointed, but at the same time I respect the university’s decision.”

The decision to stop it was met with mixed reaction on campus Wednesday.

Some students are considering protesting the decision, while others expressed sadness and said the show was very important to friends within the LGBTQ community.

“Especially as the first openly gay president of the programming board, I think it’s something that is very important to the community,” said Jenkins, “Because it allows people to engage in experiential learning.”

Others were in favor of the cancellation.

“They don’t need to have the university sponsor activities that go against the teachings of the church,” said a student named Kyle.

A spokesperson for JCU sent the following statement to Fox 8 News:

"We are working with our students on new and more extensive programming that will promote the expression, appreciation and understanding of the many identities represented at John Carroll University. We are also engaging with community partners, alumni, and experts to advance the understanding of different points of view related to sexuality, faith, inclusion and respect."

One former JCU student, who has become a performer, is still hoping officials will reverse the decision.

Warren Serrani, who goes by the stage name Aurora Thunder, was a JCU student in 2013 when he saw the very first drag show on campus.

“Something about it just lit a spark within me and made me realize there’s a beautiful way of expressing yourself and that was something I was deeply missing in my life,” said Serrani.

He says this particular show is nothing like people may have seen in the movies or on the internet.  And it has never been about shocking people or outwardly raucous sexual behavior.

He says the show has always focused on teaching diversity and inclusion.

“I’ve had students come up to me and say they were inspired; I’ve had students come up to me and say I’ve accepted somebody new and opened my eyes and my heart and mind to be a more loving and accepting person,” said Serrani. “This show has so many benefits for people of all walks of life.”

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