John Carroll University Officials Put an End to Annual Campus Drag Show


  • Scene Archives Photo
Meeting with student leaders last week, John Carroll University president broke the news that the annual campus drag show would not go on as planned this semester.

The JCU event, which was known to showcase local drag talent and feature a question and answer session post-performance, has run yearly since 2013 and reportedly attracted around 150 people last year. 

After that performance, a viral student opinion piece stirred controversy with its anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. The author Declan Leary, op/ed editor of the Carroll News at the time, even called upon school president Michael D. Johnson to end the campus drag show and "purge this place of the evils which have invaded it in the names of tolerance and progress."

Following the article's publication and subsequent backlash, various school officials spoke with Leary and his editors, but the Carroll News stood by the piece, citing the First Amendment. The newspaper later printed letters to the editor that supported the drag show and LGBTQ students.

In the recent meeting with students, Johnson reportedly said he wanted to take a neutral stance on the whole debate and that not having the drag show could help accomplish that goal. 

Students in both student government and LGBTQ groups on campus plan to protest the decision in the weeks to come as well as offer various educational forums surrounding the topic. Plans for drag queens to be a part of the school's diversity week are still in the works.

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.