CEDAR FALLS |Steven Sanchez is not afraid to flaunt his feminine side.
The 21-year-old communication studies major is on the University of Northern Iowa's homecoming court and aspires to be the first transgender homecoming queen representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and others.
“I want to raise visibility of the LGBT community on campus,” he said. “And I’ve never felt more accepted than I have here at UNI.”
Sanchez, a board member of UNI Proud, an advocacy group, dressed up like singer Selena Gomez for his drag performance at the Homecoming Royalty Competition Tuesday night.
Students voted for their favorite of five king and five queen candidates at the competition. The results will be revealed on Friday.
His flashy, pop performance -- complete with a wig and dance moves -- sparked roaring cheers from the packed auditorium in Maucker Union.
Growing up in San Antonio ,Tex., Sanchez said he was always attracted to more feminine things, but was severely bullied for it throughout primary school.
“I had a Britney Spears backpack I always carried around and they always made fun of me for that,” he said.
It got so bad, he dropped out of school and got his diploma through a dual-credit degree program.
“As I got older, I researched online and started exploring my own opinions and identities ... Now I see it’s OK to like these things,” he said.
Sanchez said he has always felt inspired by powerful women. He attributes his confidence to an aunt who supported him throughout his childhood.
“I think everyone has masculine and feminine sides and I don’t think it should be labeled ... I’m comfortable with both,” he said.
Contestant Kristin Stande, also competing for crown, doesn't find it odd that Sanchez is in the race for queen.
“I think it’s awesome that he’s just going for it and doing what he loves. To just be yourself and let people see you for who you are,” she said.