As the Russian army rolled into the Crimea over the weekend, the U.S. army in Okinawa was conducting its own maneuvers: holding the first “drag show” in the history of the U.S. military.
Six servicemembers arrayed in heavy makeup danced and lip synched songs at the Rocker NCO Club at Kadena Air Base Saturday as part of a fundraiser for the local chapter of OutServe-SLDN, an advocacy group for gay soldiers, Stars and Stripes reports.
“We didn’t think there was much of a desire for an event like this on the island but it has actually blown up,” Navy Lt. Marissa Greene, co-chapter leader of OutServe Okinawa, told the newspaper.
Lt. Greene said she anticipated only selling 75 tickets or so but ended up selling out the initial allotment of 200 tickets almost immediately.
“We ended up selling 400 tickets in 10 days,” she said.
Stars and Stripes reports the Okinawa-based soldiers “may have been the first to take to the stage and perform as drag queens on a [U.S.] military installation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.”
The paper reported “the Rocker club was packed for performances by servicemembers using stage names such as Chocolate Sunrise — a crowd favorite — and Artemis Faux. The event’s sole lesbian performer took the drag king name Manny Nuff.”
The paper noted that the group agreed to not use the term “drag show” during the event.
Stars and Stripes, which is authorized by the Defense Department to report military news and is guaranteed editorial independence by Congress, reported the show is “a sign of the times within the military; just a few years ago, gay and lesbian drag performances on a military base would have been unthinkable and potentially a cause for dismissal from the service.”
“Everything is just accepted. It makes me really proud to watch it,” Tech. Sgt. Kristen Baker told the paper. In the military, “we are all brothers and sisters no matter what.”
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