Arts workshop review

Make it Fierce: Reviving drag culture at MIT

Fierce Forever returns with a series of workshops and final drag show

Tall and lanky, drag queen Raquel Supreeze breezed into the moderately crowded classroom Monday evening and let out an unexpected belch. With a light-hearted laugh, she turned toward the audience and coyly announced, “I’m not sorry!” Little did I know that being unapologetic, in all its various forms, would become the theme of the night.  

The first workshop of Fierce Forever was a crash-course in drag, with professional drag queen Raquel Supreeze speaking to a group of about twenty MIT students. Passionate, funny, and deeply sincere, Raquel focused on the concepts of drag, claiming that the actual persona and performance all stems from the ideological. According to Raquel, drag is all about finding your truest self and expressing it with unabashed and unapologetic whimsy and fantasy. “With drag, you can be who you want to be. You can create your own narrative,” explained Raquel.

In a room filled with a diverse make-up of enthicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation, Raquel’s words on the inclusivity of drag culture struck a particularly strong chord. In drag, everyone creates their own unique and personal narrative, where identities don’t have labels or have to neatly fit into categories. It was refreshing to see a genuine and non-belabored take on real-life communities of inclusivity especially for LGBTQ and non-heteronormative identies.

Fierce Forever is an invaluable addition to the MIT community. However, it’s not new.

Last Monday’s first workshop was the inaugural return of Fierce Forever, an eleven-year, MIT-run drag program that ended in 2014. In the past, it has been led by professional drag queens, holding weekly workshops covering all aspects of drag shows and culture, ultimately culminating in a final show at the end of the semester. Yet, by 2014, the members of the executive board were all graduating and they had no one to pass the Fierce Forever leadership role to. Four years later, when Daniel Estandian, a third year graduate student in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences program, was looking to get more involved in LGBTQ culture at MIT, he stumbled across this defunct queer-centered program and decided it was high time for a revival. In a recent interview, he disclosed, “For me the purpose [of Fierce Forever] is really just [to give] queer culture a presence at MIT, and show people something that is really fun and a large scale event associated with LGBTQ.”

Fierce Forever has revived drag culture at MIT, and with it, a new spotlight has been shone on the Insititute’s own LGBTQ community. For those who are interested, the next workshop is on 4/2 and final show on 5/4.