In early December, a troupe of Oklahoma City Star Trek fans came together to celebrate their fandom in the name of a worthy cause. A local bar called Frankie’s presented a Star Trek-themed drag show hosted by performer Busty Springfield. Titled “EnGAYge: A Star Trek Drag Show,” the event was the first of its kind in Oklahoma City.
Throughout the evening, a total of 13 drag artists presented their acts in the hope of raising money for Sisu Youth Services, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless youth in the area, particularly those who have found themselves unhoused as a result of their LGBTQ identity.
EnGAYge brought out Oklahoma City’s Trekkies
The support offered by the Star Trek community resonated with Frankie’s, the venue that sponsored and hosted the drag show. In the words of owning partner Tracy Harris, “I love Star Trek. It’ll be fun. And it’s for a good cause. So, yeah, we were in.” While Harris is a longtime fan of the show and speaks openly of her fondness for it, her partner Ann Rena noted how many Trek fans quietly support the show and each other. “I was surprised at the people that I see on a regular basis and had no idea they were superfans.” It was this sense of Star Trek community that Busty Springfield was counting on to raise money for Sisu with a charity benefit.
Inspired by “The Outcast”
Regardless of whether the people in attendance had been fans for decades or were just getting their first dose of Trek that evening, Busty was counting on the themes of identity and self-exploration to compel the audience to use their fandom to support LGBTQ youth who had found themselves in need at a very vulnerable point in their lives. Her time in the fandom convinced her that Star Trek’s message of tolerance and personal growth made the ideal theme for her show and its charity goal. There was a very specific TNG episode that really affected Busty, and for her was an example of Star Trek at its best:
“I remember the first time I watched the episode, “The Outcast.” I saw one episode which really spoke to me as a queer nonbinary person, because I was like, this person, who we’ve never seen before is going through these motions of trying to communicate how they feel about their identity to another person in a way that they can hopefully understand, and has to go through that tribulation of worrying whether or not they’re going to be accepted by the people around them for it. And as someone in my late 20s now, who’s kind of been through some of that journey, and still going through a lot of that journey, it’s very validating to actually see that played out on screen and relate to everything that I’m hearing.”
“Star Trek spoke to me”
Busty Springfield is an accomplished drag performer, having started in the UK before moving to Oklahoma. While she has done drag for over a decade, she only came into the Star Trek fandom in the last two years. Since then, she has been on a mission to catch up on the many vintage Trek shows and has a particular love for Deep Space Nine. After discovering Trek in August of 2022, she says she took to it “like a duck to water.” In an interview with TrekMovie, Busty recalls the journey from newcomer to devoted fan:
“I was like, this is one of the most incredible shows I have ever seen. Like, it’s not often I find a piece of media that speaks to me. But Star Trek spoke to me and I liked the kinds of difficult topics that they take on in these episodes. And the way that they construct life lessons of these morality plays in a way that doesn’t feel preachy, but still very obviously important and clear, told through a way that’s exciting. It’s like amazing sci-fi adventures. Like, why would anybody not find that interesting?”
With strong interests in both Star Trek and drag, Busty felt a desire to combine the two. She felt the show already lent itself to drag concepts with its strong female representation and noted support and popularity within the LGBTQ audience, so all she had to do was decide how it would happen:
“I think what it was, was the fact that as I was watching Star Trek, I kept seeing so much of myself out of drag and myself in drag through all of these characters. I remember, you know, I would flip and say, oh, Tasha Yar so much like me as Busty Springfield, or like, Major Kira does too… Oh, so does Seven of Nine a little bit. These curvaceous boss ass female role models that bear such a strong resemblance to me aesthetically as a drag character, but a resemblance to me, psychologically outside of the character. So it just kind of made sense for me to kind of bring Star Trek into what I do as a drag queen. And then I also realize just how much popularity Star Trek has amongst queer people and amongst other drag performers that I knew around me, I started noticing that about, you know, towards the beginning of this year, so I was like, why not combine the two? There’s clearly a high demand for this.”
Funds raised help charity respond to emergency needs
Sisu, the agency that benefited from EnGAYge, is a drop-in center and emergency youth shelter for the “actively homeless or unstably housed” LGBTQ community. The agency also provides resources to connect clients with education, employment, and short-term housing. “The more grassroots fundraising efforts, like the one Busty put on, those are really great as sort of unrestricted funds, to be able to handle emergencies as they come up,” explained Sisu president Dennis Rudasill. According to Rudasill, while the bulk of the agency’s programs are paid for through grants, those grants are strictly controlled and do not allow a great deal of customizing services to individual client needs. Money gained through donations gives Sisu the ability to respond directly to someone’s specific circumstances. “One example might be emergency rent. Maybe we have a client that comes to the drop-in center and they say ‘My rent is due tomorrow, and if I don’t pay the rent, then I’m going to get evicted.’ If we have an emergency fund… we can use this as emergency rental assistance.”
At the end of the evening, a total donation of over $1,100 was raised by the crowd, while more continued to come in through online contributions. The evening was successful enough that future Star Trek-themed events are being considered.