WHILE Australians were enjoying the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade earlier this month, a historic moment took place in Okinawa, Japan, when six US Air Force personnel performed in what has described as the US military’s first-ever officially sanctioned drag show in support of LGBTI Americans.

Donning heavy make-up, paper fans and stylish outfits, the performers — gay, straight and lesbian — from the 18th Wing based at Kadena Air Force Base had names such as Manny-Nuff, Chocolate Sunrise and Artemis Faux.

Mainly organised by the Okinawa chapter of Outserve-SLDN, a volunteer group that advocates for American LGBTI military personnel, the fundraiser saw over 400 tickets sold over a matter of days.

According to US military publication Stars and Stripes, the drag show took place at Rocker Non-Commissioned Officers Bar, with senior base commanders allowing the event to take place under the guidelines of an on-base charity “variety show”.

“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, one of the leaders of Outserve Okinawa.

Initially only hoping for a crowd of 75,  Greene stated that the funds raised from the event would go towards equality-promoting events across the US military facilities within the Okinawa region.

With drag shows and other LGBTI-related events being banned under the now-repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ laws up until September 2011, patrons of the event such as Technical-Sergeant Kristen Baker said in a statement that the performances received a warm reception and would ultimately leave a mark for civil rights.

When asked for her thoughts on the event, Baker stated: “Everything is just accepted. It makes me really proud to watch it. We are all brothers and sisters, no matter what.”

 

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