Legends of Pride inspires, misfires

By Melissa Lindley

The self-professed “world’s greatest impersonator” of Elton John combined music with acrobatics during his performance on Monday night.

The self-professed “world’s greatest impersonators” of Lady Gaga, Madonna and Elton John kicked off Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Month at the Legends of Pride event this Monday in the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) with host Wilson Cruz.

The impersonators portrayed LGBT icons that have played an instrumental role in supporting equal rights and are known to be prominent gay icons of their generation.

Singles such as Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” were among the plethora of songs performed during the event.

While some members of crowd seemed very entertained, singing along to songs and dancing onstage with the performers, others were not so satisfied. Several students left the BLC during the beginning of the performance. Some students who wished to remain anonymous complained that a few of the interactions with the audience were awkwardly flamboyant and the singing didn’t resemble the original artists.

Midway through her performance, the Lady Gaga impersonator had a wardrobe malfunction when ornaments began falling off of her costume.

Junior English major Walter Saravia left the event with mixed feelings.

“Lady Gaga sucked,” Saravia said. “But everyone else was really good.”

Junior communications major Alicia Abruzzese was among those dissatisfied with the musical aspect of the event.

GLAAD spokesperson and actor Wilson Cruz addressed the crowd in the BLC regarding some of the tough issues the LGBT community faces in today’s media.

“It was entertaining, but not in a good way,” she said. “Everyone was laughing at how badly they were singing. It felt like it was thrown together.”

However, Abruzzese did take a positive experience away from the evening.

“I enjoyed Cruz’s speech immensely,” she said.

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) spokesperson and actor Cruz spoke to a packed auditorium of students in the BLC for Legends of Pride event sponsored by the Student Entertainment Council.

Cruz discussed his career as well as his experience as an openly gay actor on television and Broadway and addressed both the evolution and hindrances that the LGBT community has encountered in the media.

He has appeared in Broadway’s Rent, the 2009 film He’s Just Not that Into You and television programs such as “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2011 as well as the short-lived ’90s cult series “My So-Called Life.”

Students were informed about a myriad of issues, especially ones that are lacking attention or go unaddressed in the media. He acknowledged that the struggles of the LGBT youth receive little recognition on television, and that there is a lack of racial diversity in the gay community and an avoidance of direct depictions of homosexuality.

Despite these continual struggles for the LGBT community in the media, he has been quite pleased that there has been an immense amount of support for gay rights.

“If the work is being done, I feel like this generation is in good hands,” he said after his speech. “I feel like I was here to put things in context.”

Cruz’s character Rickie on “My So-Called Life” was a groundbreaker for the LGBT community in the early ’90s. Very few shows explicitly referenced homosexuality at the time, and Cruz’s character depicted the common and previously unaddressed struggles of a gay teenager. His role in the show portrayed the difficulties that were unknown to the majority of people at the time.

While asserting that the entertainment industry still has a long way to go, Cruz praised the media for its improvement in recent years, supporting shows that have worked hard to educate and bring awareness to issues in the LGBT community.

“I think where we’ve come is amazing, but where we’re going is even better.”

Nick Barbati, Campus Life coordinator, felt that overall the speech and performances were a good start for upcoming events.

“I thought the performers were great,” he said. “I think as a campus community, we can do an LGBT heritage month.”

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