Devout Catholic Charles LiMandri says when he heard school administrators had approved a Drag Queen show at USD where he graduated in 1977, he couldn't believe it. NBC 7's Tony Shin reports.
While an upcoming drag show at the University of San Diego campus has pushed some of the university's donors to protest, other alumni have come forward in support of the event.
The drag show on Wednesday evening is designed as a celebration of equality, similar to the message of San Diego’s annual Gay Pride Parade, organizers said.
"Students are encouraged to dress up as someone from a different gender and express their identity like that," explained sophomore Ernesto Reyes.
The alumni group , "A USD For Everyone" recently launched a website which features letters of support from alumni and members of the community.
The grassroots group was created in response to critics such as Charles LiMandri, who has donated thousands of dollars to the private university, but is staunchly opposed to the drag show.
"I believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. Although not everything is taken literally it does say men should dress as men, women should dress as women," LiMandri told NBCSanDiego Monday night.
The Drag Show has drawn harsh criticism from many other students and alumni. A website gathering names of people who are against the show claims to have about 7,000 names. Over the weekend LiMandri created his own website, AlumniforaCatholicUSD.org, asking people to put pressure on school administrators to stop the show.
However this sends the wrong message to prospective students and current students attending a school that is relatively progressive in its acceptance of the LGBT community, said Councilmember and USD alumni Todd Gloria.
"When I attended USD 12 years ago, it was not a welcoming environment for LGBT students," Gloria said. "Student LGBT groups met in secret, there was no programming and no diversity training relative to the LGBT community."
All that has changed, said Gloria, who also donates to the school. Despite the recent objections to Wednesday's event, just holding it will encourage students to respect eachother and welcome diversity, he added.
"A lot of people come out at this time in their lives, during college. So it's important to know that USD is a place that values their students and welcomes them."
A university spokesperson said the event has been approved according to it's Equal Opportunity Policy.
Some students who oppose the event said they will protest outside the university center while the event takes place inside.