Madison's Drag Queen Bingo draws standing room only crowd at church; 30 protest peacefully outside

MADISON — Roaring laughter filled the normally-sedate First Congregational Church’s Hubley Hall, as a standing-room-only crowd enjoyed bingo punctuated with colorful drag queen performances.

Rev. Todd Vetter, organizer, was overwhelmed with the support from the crowd and the presence of a number of clergy from other churches.

“People are having fun,” he said, as music filled the hall and the drag queens sang and joked with the crowd.

Meanwhile, many attendees were busily taking photos and videos with their phones.

Others sang along with the drag queens — Shaneeda Razor sang “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” by Shania Twain. The audience waved dollar bills in the air as the performers danced around collecting the money.

“It’s a lot of fun and we’re raising money for the mission trip, which is the important thing,” Vetter said. So far the church has raised $9,000 from the event.

The funds will benefit the church’s annual youth mission trip to Appalachia for home repair and rehabilitation.

The line snaked around the building for tickets and the event sold out in 20 minutes. Capacity was 170 and some 80 people were turned away.

Vetter fielded numerous phone calls and emails the past week from disapproving individuals objecting to the church’s decision to hold the event.

“I’m relieved,” he said. “It was a rough week. To be clear, people obviously can disagree about these things, but there was a certain lack of civility on the part of some people who called and wrote, which was discouraging.”

About 20 protesters, quietly gathered on the green before the event and three individuals remained at the event’s end.

“I’m here to protect my grandchildren’s future,” said Cheryl Martin, standing outside the event as attendees dispersed for the evening.

She was holding up a handwritten poster that read “Message to DRAG QUEEN Please DO NOT TAINT our children.”

“I don’t agree with the behavior of drag queens,” said the East Haven resident. “They’re fake. They’re doing a fake persona.”

“Please don’t taint our children’s minds,” she. “If you want to show it in front of adults, OK, but don’t let children see this garbage going on.”

Inside, as bingo numbers were being called, Brandy Alexander, wearing a black sparkly dress and a stylish pixie blonde wig, said she and her fellow drag queens always “feed off the energy in the room.”

“I’m having a blast,” the Manchester resident said. “It’s so amazing. The energy is phenomenal, the people are being so wicked nice. It’s very, very nice.”