A crowd of 400 watched gay, lesbian, and straight service members in Okinawa perform in drag this weekend as part of a fundraiser for a newly created group on the Kadena Air Base. Much to their surprise, the event was a bigger hit than the group was expecting, according to one of its leaders.
“We didn’t think there was much of a desire for an event like this on the island but it has actually blown up,” said Navy lieutenant Marissa Greene, co-chapter leader of OutServe-SLDN, an advocacy group for LGBT members of the military. Greene told Stars and Stripes that they were hoping to sell 75 tickets, but kept bumping the sales up as demand for the show grew.
The group stayed away from describing the event as a “drag show,” instead getting approval to have a variety show. Performers used playful stage names such as Chocolate Sunrise, Manny Nuff, and Artemis Faux, and sang the tunes of Whitney Houston and Adam Lambert. For some, it was their first time performing.
One of the attendees, Sergeant Kristen Baker, said the event was a pivotal moment for the military and its approach to LGBT members following the repeal of the Clinton-era Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in 2011. “Everything is just accepted,” Baker said. “It makes me really proud to watch it,”