For almost a year now, gathering has taken on many different forms due to the impacts of COVID-19. Through various virtual events, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln along with campus organizations have been able to continue engaging with the campus community.
One of these events, Drag Queen Bingo, hosted by the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of Gender and Sexual Identity, which was first held at the beginning of the pandemic, will be making a virtual comeback on Feb. 11. The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom and will be hosted by one of Lincoln’s premier drag queens, Mrs. Yuka Layme. The event is free, but students interested in attending must sign up for the event via the link on the UNL event calendar.
The commission in charge of the event is a group of faculty, staff and students responsible for providing advice to the chancellor, Ronnie Green, in an effort to enhance the status of LGBTQA+ identifying people on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus. The commission works to achieve this goal by building community through events like this, bestowing the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to the LGBTQA+ Community and addressing concerns of the campus LGBTQA+ community.
Michael Bergland-Riese, a staff member on the commission, believes events like these are important because they give commission members the opportunity to connect outside of the workplace.
“We’re always looking for ways to create community,” Riese said. “We are usually working with each other on a work basis, so this is a chance for faculty and staff to connect on a more personal level. It’s also then a chance for students who want to attend to then mingle with faculty and staff in a more lowkey environment.”
Participants in this week’s event will play bingo online with the opportunity for the winners of each of the games to win prizes. In between each round of bingo, Layme will be singing a variety of songs.
Last year, Layme hosted the first Drag Queen Bingo. Due to the success of last year’s event, Bergland-Riese said the commission wanted to do one again and asked Layme to host it once again.
“When COVID[-19] started, I was doing some bingo events for a lot of different corporations,” Layme said. “Through that, I think some people saw it and said, ‘Hey let's try that for us,’ and we did it, and it worked.”
While Layme said she believes it’s important that the university has a commission like this to support the LGBTQA+ community, she commended the university for actually holding these events and putting the chancellor's commission into action.
“You can say that you’re inclusive, you can say that you feel a certain way, but I think actually doing things is a good way to put it into practice,” Layme said. “Especially with COVID[-19], it can be very isolating to be at home alone … also with the LGBTQ community, we know there is a high percentage of depression and mental illness and obviously COVID-19 and isolation doesn’t help this at all. So I think events like this often have a deeper meaning, though maybe not purposeful: it gives people an outlet, a way to be with the community when you’re not actually supposed to be in the community.”