Lambda Event Explores Florida Law & Drag

A drag performer in a voluminous, star-studded fuschia robe throws their arms in the air as they perform.
Stetson Law alumnus Edson Abadia, Jr. ’22 performs as Mr. Gripp during a Lambda Legal Society fundraiser.

Over a lively Friday evening in the Great Hall, Stetson Law students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends celebrated the LGBTQ+ community and reflected on current challenges its members face in Florida.

The evening’s main event was a drag show featuring multiple performers, including 2022 alumnus Edson Abadia, Jr., who, in character as Mr. Gripp, opened the show with a dazzling routine set to a mashup of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” The B-52s’ “Love Shack,” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”

Performances followed from Greta Gripp (Abadia’s partner, Michael Knapp), Hazel E. Genevieve, and Mr. Vun Suazion.

Organized by Stetson’s chapter of Lambda Legal Society, the event aimed to raise scholarship funds for LGBTQ students as well as awareness of current policies critics say are targeting the LGBTQ+ community on multiple fronts. Lambda played a pioneering role in bringing the first drag show to Stetson Law earlier in 2023 during Diversity Week with their annual Spelling Bee, ABCs with the LGBT.

An update & call to action

Before the performers took the stage, alumni Nathan Bruemmer offered insightful remarks on the current state of Florida law and its influence on matters related to sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression.

A man speaks in front of a black backdrop printed with the Stetson Law logo. A rainbow flag is in the background,
Alumnus Nathan Bruemmer ’17 offers updates on laws affecting the LGBTQ+ community during a Lambda Legal Society fundraiser.

A 2017 graduate of Stetson Law, Bruemmer has held leadership roles in Equality Florida, St. Pete Pride, and other organizations. In 2021, he made history when former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried appointed him to the role of LGBTQ Consumer Advocate for the Florida Department of Agriculture, which made him the first openly LGBTQ individual appointed to a statewide role in Florida – and the first openly transgender person appointed to such a role in the nation.

As he updated the audience on the latest legal efforts to fight restrictions on healthcare for transgender individuals and drag performances as well as other maneuvers targeting the LGBTQ+ community, he reflected on how his time at Stetson Law was marked by momentous events both in his life and within society at large.

He met the person who ultimately became his partner in the Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library – and was  studying law at Stetson when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on Obergefell, the landmark decision that legalized same-sex marriage, which he called “a really exciting and nerdy time” to be law student.

Despite it being in his hometown, he said, Stetson Law wasn’t initially on his radar as he began looking into studying law – until he got a letter from the college’s director of admissions talking about Stetson’s commitment to supporting LGBTQ+ students.

“It ended up being exactly where I needed to be, and so Stetson is home for me,” Bruemmer said.

As for facing recent setbacks for the community in Florida, he urged the audience to remain informed, engaged, and active – and to never give up.

“Never has it been clearer that the importance of developing diverse attorneys to be ready to respond to the moment we’re in, because it will take years of policy development and advocacy and litigation to get us out of this current moment,” he said. “I think Stetson’s finest will lead a lot of those efforts both here in Florida and across the country.”

Celebrating a commitment to diversity

The occasion marked a historic milestone for Lambda, serving as one of the organization’s largest networking events in its history. It also aimed to raise funds for Lambda’s PRIDE Scholarship, which Abadia initiated during his time at Stetson Law.

Drag performers and campus officials pose in front of the marble fireplace in Stetson's Great Hall.
Left to right: Edson Abadia ’22 as Mr. Gripp, Michael Knapp as Greta Gripp, Dean Benjamin Barros, alumnus Nathan Bruemmer ’17, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Latoya Edwards, Mr. Vun Suazion, and Hazel E. Genevieve.

Designed to provide financial support to LGBTQ+ community members actively engaged on campus, it thus far remains un-endowed, something Lambda’s current leadership aims to change.

In partnership with Lambda, the Student Affairs Department, Office of Diversity, Collaboration, and Inclusion (DCI), and the Department of Development and Alumni Engagement, organizers believe they are on the path to securing funding for the scholarship.

“Being able to host drag performers, hear from passionate alumni, and finally endow our PRIDE scholarship were important steps in furthering Lambda’s mission to support powerful advocates that bring diverse representation to our community,” said Hunter Wolf, president of Lambda at Stetson. “We are so lucky and honored to attend Stetson Law which both recognizes our LGBTQIA+ community and celebrates it.”

Several LGBTQ+ allied law firms, community organizations, and faculty members have already pledged their support to the scholarship – generous measures acknowledged during the event.

“Lambda Legal Society has always been my favorite part of Stetson,” Wolf said. “Law school is a difficult and demanding process, but it is the people and connections within this amazing student organization that I’m going to remember and cherish for life.”

More photos from the Florida Law & Drag fundraiser

previous arrow
next arrow