“Drag Out The Vote” was held on Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Berkman Hall auditorium at Cleveland State University. Five drag stars from the Cleveland drag scene, Dean Heartthrob, Omega, Dakota Cox, King Kae, and Thornstar, performed for attendees to bring awareness to the upcoming midterm election on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Giana Formica, aka Dean Heartthrob, CSU student and LGBTQ+ student services office assistant, organized the event with help from Carly Sabella, CSU student and campus organizer for Ohio Democrats and CSU Dems.
Upon entering the event, attendees were greeted with food, pride stickers and flags, QR codes to tip the drag queens and kings, and information about Democratic nominees that will be on the ballot this Tuesday.
Special guest speakers Nickie Antonio, Ohio State Senator who is up for re-election this Tuesday, and Dan O’ Malley, previous Lakewood city council president, were also present at this event.
Antonio, the first and only openly lesbian person to serve in the Ohio office, spoke first and encouraged audience members to vote, rewarded early voters with candy, and emphasized the importance of voting up and down the ballot.
“This year, more than any other time I can remember, our rights are on the line, women’s rights are on the line, LGBT folks rights are on the line, our ability to make all kinds of decisions about autonomy is on the line and on the ballot this year,” Antonio shared.
Antonio asked those in attendance to think about five people they may know who might not vote and have a conversation with them to get them to vote. “Take them there yourself!” She proclaimed.
“Please, please, please, all of our futures are on the line. For all of us to be able to have the opportunity to be our authentic selves, legally, we gotta vote,” Antonio said.
Following Antonio, Dan O’Malley spoke on the importance of this election.
“I cannot overstate how critical this election is. It isn’t just about having an economy we want. It isn’t just a matter of making sure our rights are protected,” O’Malley stated. “Our democracy is on the line. We literally may not have a country if certain people get into office or back into office.”
“They’re priming the pump to take our rights away as LGBTQ+ Americans, and that threat is very real, and it is something we absolutely cannot allow to happen,” O’Malley continued. “We need to make sure we are doing absolutely everything we can because our rights are worth fighting for. Our democracy is worth fighting for.”
For example, Ohio’s version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill – House Bill 616, seeks to ban sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom until fourth grade. Mike DeWine, Ohio’s current governor, has not made yet made a publicly clear stance on the bill but has stated that sex education in elementary school “would be crazy.”
However, DeWine’s opponent this election, Nan Whaley, has spoken out against the bill.
Drag performers did two dance numbers each for the audience members. All in attendance were hooting and hollering as performers danced throughout the auditorium.
“You might not f— with politics, but politics will f— with you, so go out and f— vote,” stated one Drag Queen, Omega.