Center for Reducing Health Disparities

Smokeless Diva 2013

tygra-lungsIf you missed the Smokeless Diva 2013 Drag Pageant here is your chance to learn more and prepare for the next time to see our Diva in action. The University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Center for Reducing Health Disparities (UNMC CRHD) presented its very first drag pageant, “Smokeless Diva,” at Flixx Lounge on April 13, 2013.  The show was designed to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke within the LGBT community, where research shows that use rates are almost double that of the general population across the United States.

Over 400,000 people in the United States die every year from tobacco-related diseases, and tobacco use and secondhand smoke do not discriminate against their victims.  The American Cancer Society estimates that over 30,000 LGBT people die each year from tobacco-related diseases. Locally in Nebraska, through the Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative’ s Midlands LGBT Needs Assessment Community Report in 2011, 46.4% of LGBT respondents had smoked 100 cigarettes in their life.

CRHD along with Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition (MOTAC) and Latinas, Tabaco, y Cáncer (LTC) help find and create solutions to creating an Omaha that is healthier and tobacco-free across all population groups.  We are able to provide technical assistance for creating tobacco-free environments such as smoke-free apartments and tobacco-free business policies, making it healthier for all of us to be in a space where smoking is not the norm but a known and avoidable cause of preventable death.

Through the “Smokeless Diva” pageant, we were able to reach out and promote healthier choices by demonstrating  that being smoke-free or smoke-less is a lot more glamorous and fun than being tied down to a cig.

What better way to inform people about the dangers of tobacco use than an animated and creative pageant?  In order to afford an appealing prize for the winner, the LTC LGBT subgroup held a tamale sale where they sold close to 35 dozen tamales.  And so, our Diva took home a sash and crown, roses, and a cash price of $150.  Although these are humble beginnings for a pageant, it brought forth a most stunning contestant and now winner, Tygra Slaríí.

Everyone involved in the planning of the pageant could not imagine what type of Diva this pageant would bring and how comfortable she would be in talking about tobacco when smoking is so ingrained into the LGBT community, but we were pleasantly surprised when Tygra took to the stage. There were four categories within the pageant, two of which are not necessarily often done, an interview and a creative costume wear.  During the creative costume category of the pageant, contestants were asked to design an outfit that reflected the insides of a smoker.  Tygra appeared in a beautifully fitted wedding dress, and on her hands she held a bouquet.  Some people were a bit confused and frankly did not understand her outfit, but then she blew into her bouquet and a bunch of material floated in the air which appeared like smoke. Tygra made an elegant turn and there it was…the back of the dress was black and tarred with cigarette boxes attached to it. The dress was backless, where black lungs were drawn on and patched with white tape to resemble sick lungs. What creativity! We thought that the highlight of the night, that is until she spoke to the audience during the interview. When asked why she was competing, Tygra revealed that she desired the title of ‘Smokeless Diva’ because she wanted to make a difference for people in her community; she did not want others to suffer the fate of her father who had died of lung cancer a few years prior.  With the support of her family, Tygra had entered the drag queen world and has a great appreciation of them; she wants to do her part to bring awareness to the community on the silent killer that took one of her champions.

The night was filled with laughter, witty banter from the Emcees, and wonderful performers and rock star drag queens.  Most of all it was full of useful information regarding tobacco.   Miss Smokeless Diva accepted her title with such elegance and glamour. Tygra entered her reign as Smokeless Diva very seriously where during her victory show, Tygra organized a substance abuse show with drag performers to promote prevention and awareness. The show was a remarkable display of talent and creativity as some performers depicted drug overdosing, heroin, cocaine and others.  Tygra’s reign continues, so if you would like to support her CRHD/MOTAC/ and LTC as well as
other projects/events like these, please visit https://www.facebook.com/Motac.

 

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