A Texas university president canceled a drag show on the school’s campus, citing his Christian faith in his reasoning.
“Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not,” West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) President Walter Wendler wrote in an email to students which he later posted on his blog.
The university president went on to call drag shows offensive and demeaning to women.
“As a performance exaggerating aspects of womanhood (sexuality, femininity, gender), drag shows stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes for the amusement of others and discriminate against womanhood. Any event which diminishes an individual or group through such representation is wrong.”
The drag show was intended to serve as a fundraiser for The Trevor Project, a nonprofit designed to help prevent suicide among individuals who identify as LGBTQ.
Wendler called this a “noble cause” but suggested the students “skip the show and send the dough.”
In his justification for canceling the show, Wendler compared these kinds of performances to blackface.
“Drag shows are derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent,” the university president wrote. “Such conduct runs counter to the purpose of WT. A person or group should not attempt to elevate itself or a cause by mocking another person or group. As a university president, I would not support ‘blackface’ performances on our campus, even if told the performance is a form of free speech or intended as humor. It is wrong. I do not support any show, performance or artistic expression which denigrates others—in this case, women—for any reason.”
Wendler added that people deserve to be treated with dignity because they are made in the image of God.
“I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity,” Wendler said. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it.”
Despite the president canceling the event, the WTAMU students announced the drag show must go on.
“We, the students of WTAMU, hope to bring this issue to Dr. Wendler’s attention and urge him to reinstate the drag show on-campus,” a student petition with over 10,000 signatures reads. “We are holding this drag show whether we have his support or not, but his extreme lack of compassion for the LGBT+ and activist student population on campus shows with this latest e-mail.”
Wendler has not yet responded to the student’s announcement that they will defy his order.
On Friday, WTAMU students started a new petition for Wendler to step down as the university’s president. So far, it has less than 900 signatures to the 1,000 goal.