The 7th annual SMU LGBTQ Symposium will kick off this Thursday, October 7th at 7:00 pm in HTCS Auditorium. And who better to start off the event than SMU CCPA’s own D.J. Pierce. Better known as the actor and performer Shangela, Pierce graduated from SMU in 2003.

Picture of SMU alum,D.J. Pierce as Shangela

SMU LGBTQ Symposium

The SMU LGBTQ Symposium aims to “spotlight the voices, experiences, research, and creativity of the LGBT community at SMU and beyond.” And it will most certainly accomplish that aim with four unique and insightful programs/panels scheduled every Thursday this month.

Following Shangela’s October 7th performance will be three other events, all highlighting LGBTQ community members and their experiences. On October 14th, a panel of local LGBTQ business leaders will discuss their experiences in a corporate setting.

Then, on Thursday, October 21st, a panel of state representatives and attorneys will discuss Texas legislation as it relates to the LGBTQ community.

Finally, on October 28th the Symposium will present “The Coming Out Monologues.” These monologues will give voice to the experiences of LGBTQ community members and allow for the sharing of individuals’ stories.

D.J. “Shangela” Pierce

Shangela is best recognized as the first contestant to compete on three seasons of the Emmy-award-winning reality series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Currently, Shangela hosts the Emmy nominated HBO series “We’re Here,” which premieres its second season this October. As an actor, Shangela has appeared in numerous TV roles, Lady Gaga’s drag mother in the Academy Award-winning film “A Star Is Born,” and will co-star in the feature film “Lone Star Bull” slated for release next year.

While at SMU D.J. Pierce was a Hunt Scholar, a Hilltop Senator, Program Council Chair, M Award recipient, member of The Association of Black Students, and most recently selected to serve on the Meadows School of the Arts Executive Board.

To learn more about the SMU LGBTQ symposium, click here for specific dates, times, and locations.