On the rise: an environmental science student’s journey to the goddex | Kaimin’s Cast

Elani Borhegyi is an environmental science and sustainability student at the University of Montana. They are originally from Boston, Massachusetts, but came to Montana to further their education and explore the Big Sky State. Borhegyi is an avid hiker and hiker and was looking forward to taking in all the sunshine and views Montana has to offer. But that’s not all for them. Borhegyi is also a rising drag performer.

Borhegyi is active in many clubs around the UM campus, including LAMBDA, a gay advocacy group based at the university center. Last semester, LAMBDA and the Gender Equity Resource Center (formerly the Women’s Resource Center) hosted a drag show. Borhegyi played in support of LAMBDA and the night they had worked so hard to help set up.

“Drag was, for a really long time, until about six months ago, seven months ago, actually, it’s something I only wanted to do once and never again,” Borhegyi said. .

Today, Borhegyi is a drag performer and dragtivist. If the term is new to you, a dragtivist is someone who uses drag to help their activism find a wider audience and to make content fun and engaging. But they weren’t always drag artists and drag artists. Borhegyi got her start in environmental activism and has now found a way to combine her love for the outdoors with her queer identity.

The first drag show Borhegyi performed in was at the University Center. Held in conjunction with the Imperial Sovereign Court of the State of Montana – a gay advocacy group that strives to educate and provide allies to LGBTQIA+ people through events such as drag shows – the Gender Equity Resource Center and Lambda, the show took place in February. One of the goals was to raise money for Montana Two-Spirit, an organization that educated Montanans about Two-Spirit culture and issues.

The drag show was the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that many queer people around campus could come together and really put on a show. At first, Borhegyi wasn’t sure they would like to play. But, the roar of a crowd of over 200 cheering at the end of each performance is invigorating for all members of the drag show.

“And me, you know, I got started. And it was something big and incredible. I do not know. I don’t know how to describe it,” Borhegyi said.

Although hesitant to perform at first, Borhegyi enjoyed their first show enough to want to do another… And then another…. And then another.

“I caught what my mom calls the drag bug,” Borhegyi said.

At the Imperial Sovereign Court of the State of Montana, a system is in place to ensure that all new drag comers feel supported and welcomed. Each drag newcomer, aka a drag baby or drag child, is placed with a drag parent. The role of the drag parent is to support and guide their drag child as they learn the ropes of drag and help them develop their creative ideas to reach new heights. Borhegyi’s drag mother, Diana Bourgeois, says Borhegyi is a natural.

“They just picked it up like that! They are very artistic with their faces,” Bourgeois said.

Even though Borhegyi’s first performance was only a few months ago, they are now on their way to becoming a drag parent themselves. Before they can transition from the title of drag baby, the performer’s drag parent must feel that the performer is confident in their abilities. Diana Bourgeois says Borhegyi is confident and ready to be a drag parent if Borhegyi chooses to.

“They are freed from drag babydom and they will start educating and helping others who would like to become drag performers. They picked it up very quickly. It’s not common for someone who’s been doing it for such a short time to be freed from their trailing relative and sent with them. [into] the world,” Bourgeois said.

Borhegyi hopes that one day they can pass on their love of drag to the next group of performers trying their hand at drag.

Although cruising is a big part of Borhegyi’s life, their love of environmental science and sustainability dates back to their childhood. Their passion for conservation began long before their love of drag when they took a trip to the Olympic National Forest at age 13.

“I really fell in love with the ecology and the connections between, for example, the larger redwood trees and the tiny banana slugs, and it was so amazing to learn about the ecology of the park. And then I extended that to environmental sustainability in my high school,” Borhegyi said.

Borhegyi has been part of UM’s Climate Response Club since 2019. The club helps others learn about things like sustainability and climate activism. Although Borhegyi loves their work as lawyers, they believe it’s time to pass the torch.

But that doesn’t mean stopping altogether – it just meant changing the way they approach their activism.

“I really want to be an environmentalist. I want to focus on climate change and I want to avoid burnout. And I’m also starting this new thing called drag and there’s so much on my mind, and I can’t afford to do student organizing anymore,” Borhegyi said.

When Borhegyi started his drag career, they knew they wanted to continue doing their part to raise awareness for sustainability and the environment, but they didn’t know how to combine that with their love of drag. After a conversation with their teacher Peter McDonough, the idea of ​​dragtivism was born.

“We have thought about some possibilities. And one of the things that came up was to combine environmentalism into drag in some way. And I thought you know, how can I do this? You know, they are so different from each other,” Borhegyi said.

Borhegyi looked to other drag artists for inspiration on how they would combine drag and environmentalism. Borhegyi said watching Pattie Gonia and Kyne drag racers helped them see what they could do. Pattie Gonia is a drag queen who also focuses on environmental science, and Kyne is a performer who makes viral math videos on TikTok.

“I take inspiration from those two people and decide, you know what, I really want to do environmental drag videos,” Borhegyi said.

Now, Borhegyi makes videos on environmental science and sustainability while hanging out under the handle @goddex_rosebutch on TikTok and Instagram. Their videos are often about Missoula and sometimes even UM.

For Borhegyi, dragtivism combines concern for the environment with the fun and creativity that drag has to offer, but that doesn’t mean they’ve thrown sustainability to the wind. They achieved most of their drag looks in the most sustainable way possible. And according to them, they acquired about 95% of their drag wardrobe through items they either saved up or passed down to them.

“Everyone should care about dragtivism because I think it’s a really fun way to engage people around the environment. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about my videos, how great they are. are engaging. I think drag really does manage to turn boring things into something much more interesting. Whether you’re like Kyne and making math videos, or you’re like me and making environmental content I really like the idea of ​​taking something that’s boring on the surface and taking it to the next level of interest,” Borhegyi said.

You can find Borhegyi on TikTok and Instagram under the handle @goddex_rosebutch to see their drag work for yourself.

If you or someone you know is interested and would like to learn more about drag or drag shows, contact the Imperial Sovereign Court of the State of Montana or LAMBDA here at the University of Montana for more information. information.

Want to know the best way to support your local drag artists? Borhegyi says it’s as simple as attending a local drag show, bringing your energy and having a blast!

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