This Christian University Declared War on Its Queer Student Group, and Jinkx Monsoon Ain’t Having It
Jinkx Monsoon, the drag queen and burlesque performer who won Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, has been speaking out in support of an LGBTQ student group at Concordia University — a Lutheran Christian college in northeast Portland, Oregon — that has recently been shut down by administrators under shady pretenses.
Ernesto Dominguez, the founder of the Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) at Concordia University says that after three years of existing on campus as an officially recognized student group, the university administration rejected the Concordia University QSA’s latest charter, essentially discontinuing its status as an official student club.
The club had provided social opportunities and support to its 30 members, but in light of its recent disbanding, the club held its final meeting this week. To vent their anger and frustration, QSA members at the final meeting beat up and tore apart a pink piñata filled with candy.
What happened to the Concordia University QSA?
The issue began last fall when the university pledged to review all club charters to make sure that all student groups were “consistent with the university’s mission and values, and our nondiscrimination policy.” However, the review only negatively affected one group — the Queer Straight Alliance.
The school rejected the QSA’s charter because of the group’s stated aim to “raise awareness and change perception of Christian folks.” According to a Dec. 2, 2017 email from Concordia’s Events Review Committee, the committee found the QSA’s charter “unclear” and “maybe not respectful/honoring of the University’s Christian identity and values or of Christian values.”
The Oregon publication The Willamette Week reports that Concordia University administrators repeatedly rejected the QSA’s charter but wouldn’t say what changes the group should make for approval. Furthermore, the publication said that administrators “canceled the club’s events at the last minute, tore down its posters and forced the group to change its name” throughout the QSA’s three-and-a-half year existence.
In a joint statement, Monsoon, Dominguez and former QSA Vice President and secretary Amber Reeves echo this report, stating that the administration has “systematically attacked the QSA for 3.5 years since its founding,” adding, “The school has also banned and disinvited at least three queer artists since 2016, including Portland drag performer Carla Rossi who was booked by the QSA to host its Drag Bingo event.”
Despite being a private Christian school whose values align with the anti-gay Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia doesn’t have a Title IX exemption. This means that in exchange for federal financial aid funds for accepting more students, the school must follow the same federal nondiscrimination standards as public universities which includes permitting LGBTQ and other student groups to meet.
Monsoon joins Concordia University QSA student leaders in a call to action
Monsoon has been helping draw attention to the Concordia University QSA’s elimination by sharing reports about the story on her Facebook account. The joint statement released by Monsoon, Dominguez and Reeves said:
Queer students were told the school welcomed LGBTQ+ people and some received scholarships that made it their best option to receive a higher education…. Exhausted from Concordia’s systematic history of impeding and gaslighting them, the QSA … [is] currently exploring options to fight back and get the word out…. Concordia refuses to admit any part in these events and is presenting the club’s disbanding as an independent decision by the students.
The three are also encouraging people to contact the Portland Public Schools board and superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero at firstname.lastname@example.org to “demand answers and an investigation into how Concordia’s discriminatory policies will not affect pre-K through 8th grade public school students at Concordia’s partnering Faubion Elementary School.”
Their statement concludes, “Queer students at Concordia deserve the right to assemble and attain a safe education and Concordia must be held accountable for its actions.”
In slightly happier, but related news …
Monsoon just released her second studio album The Ginger Snapped along with an animated music video for its first single, entitled “Vodka and Cartoons.” The video imitates the cartoon styles of Adventure Time, Rick and Morty and other classic ‘toons while also nodding at her recent Steven Universe appearance. You can watch the “Vodka and Cartoons” video below:
Update: Monsoon reports that Concordia University has agreed to approve the QSA’s charter and make other changes to ensure more LGBT acceptance at the school.