Mx. Pride Extravaganza brought the Charger Gymnasium to life


Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Charlotte Bassett.

Honey Nefertitty Topaz, West Haven, April 20, 2023.

The Charger Gymnasium is typically reserved for winter sports such as basketball, volleyball and many more. The room was transformed into a fabulous space, with lights dimmed save for purple lighting to add ambiance and rows of chairs surrounding a catwalk, which soon had talent walking across.
This past Thursday, the People Rejoiced In Diversity Everywhere (PRIDE) recognized student organization hosted the Mx. Pride Extravaganza, which was the first drag and cosplay show put on at the university since 2019. They made sure to pull out all the stops, which was evident in the high energy displayed by the evening’s host, Mz. October May Lay.
Mz. October walked onto the stage wearing a rainbow wig, leather boots, jacket and sunglasses – despite being in a dark room – along with swagger that made the audience stare in awe.
After receiving a weak round of applause, Mz. October not-so-kindly asked the audience to give a stronger response. The audience responded with a roar of cheers and clapping, showing just how much they loved Mz. October, despite not being onstage for long.
Mz. October introduced the judges of the evening. The first was the host’s “Drag Mother” Mia E. Z’Lay, a Connecticut drag artist and “disappointment to my dad,” said Z’lay. The second judge was Frankie M. Cyanide, Connecticut’s “loudest” drag king. The third judge was Rob Durant III, who is a member of of the university’s Black Alumni Network. And the fourth judge was Kandy Muse, a contestant on “Rupaul’s Drag Race” who did not let the traffic from New York City stop her from getting to this show.
Contestants walked across the stage to show off their phenomenal fashion and powerful personalities, and later came back out to showcase their talents in another portion of the showcase.
First up was Magpie who came onto the stage rocking three flags from the LGBTQ+ community, each of which also served as a cape that flared behind them.
Second on stage was Cinderella, whose puffy, baby blue dress and crown matched that of the fairytale protagonist’s namesake.
The third contestant, King Kerosene, must have also fallen out of a fairytale as he wore a long white tuxedo top and crown.
The fourth contestant, Honey Nefertitty Topaz, glided onto the stage, and not because of their shiny, large purple wings but because of how smoothly they moved in their bedazzled bodysuit.
Contestant five, Weather Report, strutted onto stage nodding to the music while wearing bright red headphones that added to the pop-star look while rocking a bright yellow top and a short white skirt.
Contestant six, Anasui, was too hot to handle, fanning themselves as they walked onstage while rocking a shiny, magenta top and silky black bottoms.
The seventh contestant was Anya Cox, who decided to reapply lipstick before strutting on the stage while wearing a reflective pink bodysuit, which added some sass to their character.
The university’s favorite electronic device, T.V. Head, was eighth to take to the stage, waving to fans before introducing themselves in binary code.
Royalty kept popping up on the stage, including the ninth contestant Sir Laqueef who rocked a rich purple cape and golden tunic.
Magnum Opal, the 10th contestant, rushed onto the stage with such fierceness while sporting cherry red hair, a sheer black top and the Gay Pride flag as a skirt.
The last and 11th contestant, Kalymba, also took the time to reapply lipstick before striding across the stage in a white romper and fisherman hat.
Many of the contestants really showed their stuff during the talent portion of the evening. Some awesome moments of this part included a lip-sync of Naomi Scott’s “She’s So Gone” by King Kerosene, who ended the performance by taking out a picture of his younger self and a rose in memoriam of that person; Weather Report did a dramatic yet delightful dance to “Telephone” by Lady Gaga and Beyonce; and Anya Cox brought out a prince from the audience to lip-sync Jennifer Saunders’ rendition of “I Need a Hero.”
Highlights of the evening included performances from the guest judges, such as Kandy Mews who lip-synced and danced to “Break My Heart” by Dua Lipa. Each smooth move and wave to the audience was met with attendees reaching out to her along with cheers that could shake the room.
The final performance came from the PRIDE President Liv Knight, who sang “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper, a song about loving and supporting someone when they are in a dark place. This was an important sentiment to keep in mind not only for the contestants showing off their identities but also for LGBTQ+ community members who are fighting to be accepted.
The night ended with the much-anticipated awards. Third place went to Honey Nefertitty Topaz; second place went to TV Head; and first place went to Weather Report.
Audience members walked home exhausted yet fulfilled from a phenomenal night, which spelled out success for the event.

Advocacy for trans lives from the stage, West Haven, April 20, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Charlotte Bassett.)