Day of silence features student activism, drag performers


Evan Bates

Performances Tea Critchfield and Addison Aubrey dance together at Durham Part, while whistles and cheers ensue from the audience, Friday, April 14, 2023.

Siri Patterson, News Editor

According to a handwritten sign placed in Durham Park Friday, there were about 30 documented murders of transgender people in the U.S. in 2022

The sign was one of many lining the pathway. Others listed names of Black Americans murdered in hate crimes, names of missing and murdered indigenous women from North Carolina, and proposed or passed laws restricting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and women. 

These signs are part of a day of silence organized by the Intersectional Activist Alliance and are “one of the biggest staples of the event,” said Tea Critchfield, a senior music education major. 

Critchfield is the president of the Intersectional Activist Alliance and said the group just became an official organization under the university this semester. 

Partnered with the Sexuality and Gender Alliance, the Intersectional Activist Alliance’s day of silence included a drag lip sync battle, during which the audience voted for their favorite performer by electronically donating to the organization. 

All of the proceeds will “go towards trans health protection and rights,” Critchfield said. 

In a speech, Crtichfield said the day of silence is an annual silent protest in public schools led by students that protests “the silencing and harassment of queer youth.” 

The silent portion of the protest typically ends with a pride rally at the end of the day.

Critchfield said they and other members of the Intersectional Activist Alliance have been organizing a pride rally for the day of silence for three consecutive years, but this is the first year with support from the university. 

Previous days of silence have been funded by the group members, themselves. 

“The amount of money poor Tea would spend just out of their own pocket because the amount of dedication they had to this club was amazing,” said Trinity McKoy, a senior psychology major. “And now we are actually a club, we have more people here, it’s not just our friend group.”

McKoy has helped plan the day of silence event since its debut in 2021. They are a friend of Critchfield, who initially approached them about planning the event. 

Critchfield said the Intersectionality Activist Alliance is a group whose purpose “is to analyze our own intersecting identities within our club meetings and use that as a way to better ourselves as activists.”

The group holds weekly meetings and hopes to continually plan on-campus events, Critchfield said. 

The rally in Durham Park began at 5 p.m. and continued until about 6:30 p.m. Free pride flags and stickers were offered to attendees and passersby. There were around 30 people in attendance. 

Prior to the lip sync battle, Critchfield addressed the audience and said that they greatly encouraged the crowd to interact with the drag queens as they performed.

“When we are dancing, singing, making fools of ourselves, we love when you guys make fools of yourselves with us, it’s part of the experience,” Critchfield said in the speech. 

Four performers competed for the most donations in a tournament-style, one-on-one lip sync battle. 

Lydia Williams performed as the character Lilly Pad, wearing a costume inspired by a secret agent. 

Williams, a former App State student, said this is the first time she has performed drag and the experience was exhilarating. 

Addison Aubrey, 23, said this was her first time performing in Boone. Her character was inspired by poison ivy and featured a pink corset, black mini skirt and strands of fake ivy sewn into the top and braided into her bubblegum pink hair. 

“I’ve loved drag since I was 15 or 16 — well no, honestly since I was a kid. I always was obsessed with the idea of drag and musical theater,” Aubrey said. “And then, when I was a teenager, I discovered ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’like so many young queers, and it became my whole obsession. Drag is my favorite thing ever.” 

Aubrey was the winner of the lip sync battle. 

Aubrey, Lydia, Tea and two other drag performers capped off the event with a group dance to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” 

As the five drag queens strutted, dropped and whipped their long hair, the crowd cheered and waved pride flags. Tea grabbed hands with a seated audience member and brought them out onto the dance floor, giving them a spin. 

A clip of the final performance can be viewed on the Intersectional Activist Alliance Instagram page

Justice Taylor, a 2022 App State graduate, has helped organize the day of silence since 2021. He has seen a change in the overall organization of the event, Taylor said, since the organization became an official group with the university. 

“I feel like Boone is pretty accepting, and it’s mainly just our little knit community in the university where people are really supportive,” Taylor said.