UCLA Health LGBTQ Pride event wows with ‘Out, Proud and Well’
The UCLA PRIDE Drag Showcase centered on the theme of inclusion
POSE. VOGUE. CATWALK.
Those were the dance moves performed by Ongina, of "RuPaul’s Drag Race," July 24, during UCLA Health’s virtual Pride Month celebration.
The first of its kind, the show "Out, Proud and Well: The UCLA PRIDE Drag Showcase," was hosted by Tony Soto, podcast host, comedian and Silverlake drag queen, and featured performances by Maebe A. Girl, Sunset Blush, Wilhelmina Caviar, Rainy Dayz and more.
“Drag is an art form that breaks down barriers, includes people from all walks of life and features performers who know how to have – and encourage – a raucously good time,” said Chris Mann, program manager for the UCLA Gender Health Program, in an article promoting the event.
Soto kicked off the event with a Spanish performance to Selena’s “Si Una Vez,” highlighting the diversity of the Los Angeles drag scene.
As an ode to chola culture, Moi Moi Moi performed to “X2” by Marie featuring Inkas Mob, and lip-synced in English and Spanish. To them, this song symbolized how they felt about their identity as a nonbinary person.
“A lot of times I let the fact that I feel masculine at times hold me back from transitioning, but then, (I’m) coming to terms with no, that’s a part of me that I’ll hold forever,” Moi Moi Moi said. “I shouldn’t let it hold me back from looking in the mirror and seeing myself.”
Amber Crane, drag queen of 10 years, chose the song “Wings” by Little Mix. It’s a message about not letting what others say get to you, they said.
“In life we always have some people who are going to talk negative about us, who will try to put us down, but don’t fret,” Crane said. “Be strong, be you and just live your truth. Whatever they say don’t let it bother you, just spread those wings and fly because we are all stars.”
Maebe A. Girl performed a parody of “This is why I’m Hot,” by MIMS, to inform the audience of the perils of climate change.
“There is such a relation between health care, environmental factors and accessibility,” Maebe A. Girl said. “Environmental factors, health care factors, queer factors and things that relate to people of color, are all intersectional.”
During performance breaks, UCLA Health shared information on the Gender Health Program, clinical resources and services for patients and prospective patients, a fundraiser for LGBTQ initiatives, and a message from Medell Briggs-Malonson, MPH, MD, chief, Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
“We chose inclusion for the theme for tonight’s event and for Pride,” Dr. Briggs-Malonson said, “because we here at UCLA Health believe that everyone should be unapologetically their authentic selves.”
“As we celebrate Pride, Immigrant Heritage Month and the 40-year anniversary of the HIV/AIDs epidemic, I wanted to just say I’m incredibly honored to be part of this show that is incredibly inclusive, that celebrates us and celebrates LGBTQ+ and beyond,” Ongina said.
Following her performance, Ongina expressed to the audience how sharing her positive HIV status is part of being her authentic self. She says for her, it’s important to share her status as a means of ending the stigma associated with being HIV-positive.
More than 1.2 million Americans live with HIV. Though treatments allow patients to have a normal life span, stigma and shame remain pervasive.
Ongina’s former doctor, Emery H. Chang, M.D. in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, was kind and passionate and “always listened to my concerns,” she said.
“Thank you for giving me the best health care that I received in my lifetime,” she said. “Being part of this (showcase) feels full circle.”
Following her story, Soto shared with Ongina that he is also HIV-positive. They hope that by their actions, others may feel more comfortable speaking out.
“Standing up for the community and bringing awareness (to HIV) is not lost,” Soto said to Ongina. “We see you, we appreciate you and we love you.”
The event drew more than 100 donations to support LGBTQ health advocacy, advance LGBTQ research and provide in-depth and affirming LGBTQ health care.