As she strokes her padded hips and strikes a killer pose, NYU’s reigning drag queen Lilith slays the stages of Brooklyn nightclubs, schooling the masses on queer culture with every carefully lip-synched word. This bad bitch is Silver senior Alyx Steadman expressing himself and raising social awareness through one of the many facets of his extensive college career.
Raised in the small town of Hamilton, Montana, Steadman’s early life deeply influenced the path he now pursues. After coming out as gay in fifth grade, he found reason to work for those in need as he, like many, felt ostracized. Finding this purpose in high school, Steadman became a passionate ambassador for the the Trevor Project, a renowned national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.
“I got involved with the Trevor Project and advocacy, and I could turn this possible shame and otherness into something positive,” Steadman said.
Since then, he has continued to be an outspoken voice for LGBTQ issues. On June 24, 2014, Steadman spoke as the Trevor Project’s moderator at the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots commemoration along with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Posing questions about the future progress and aspirations of the LGBTQ movement to the panel of speakers, Steadman spoke with his usual confidence while simultaneously cracking jokes.
“He has an organic, natural sense of humor that I just love,” said Aisha Khan, Lafayette Hall Faculty Fellow in Residence. “It makes the residents feel like he’s a peer, and it puts everyone at ease.”
Steadman’s approachable nature is complementary to his role as Resident Assistant at Lafayette Residence Hall. As head of the Rainbow Roster explorations floor, Steadman worked with Khan and a fellow RA to plan educational and innovative programs centered around raising awareness for LGBTQ issues.
This outgoing quality extends into Steadman’s personal relationships which are of utmost importance to him. This is something Gallatin junior Josy Jablons notes, saying that from day one of working together as Admissions Ambassadors she has admired his genuine spirit.
“I can describe Alyx in two words: resilient and loyal,” Jablons said. “When Alyx makes a commitment, he stands by it — especially when that commitment is you.”
This unfleeting devotion to others is something Steadman actively promotes and practices in his position as an RA as he considers all related aspects of social justice. During the sixth season of television series “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Steadman organized and hosted weekly viewing parties while leading conversation on the larger implications of issues surrounding sex, gender, race and class that are an inevitable part of queer media.
“I don’t want to just limit myself to LGBT causes,” Steadman said. “There’s a big part of social work about building coalitions and working with intersectionality. If one group is socially oppressed, then we’re all here for that.”
A love of educating and facilitating discussion brought Steadman to Ghana during his sophomore year, where he worked for the West Africa AIDS Foundation before returning to New York as a junior, serving as president of the undergraduate student body at the Silver School of Social Work. Now an intern for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Steadman fosters safe spaces for homeless LGBTQ youth. From holding sex-positive group discussions to monthly kikis — festive pre-ball parties in the style of the ’80s drag culture documentary “Paris is Burning” — Steadman has found a particularly energetic force in the work he does with the youth.
“I always think about [the kikis] as like an art form that these youth have in conjunction to my experience in the Brooklyn queer scene and the differences of access that I’ve experienced there, so I just love it,” Steadman said. “I feel very privileged to be part of that sphere.”
Much like the tongue-in-cheek pop stars Lilith emulates, Steadman will continue to use his wits, tits and heart to educate others and form a more positive world. Even as he isn’t entirely sure of his exact plans immediately following graduation this upcoming May 2016, his thirst for social justice definitely remains, reminding him to give back in all that he does.
“I’m always having in the back of my mind like how can I give back to the communities from which I came and gave me opportunities to be where I am now,” Steadman said. “I feel this responsibility to educate people because I’m their only queer outlet, so if I don’t do it, who’s gonna do it?”