Luke and Laurel
STATE COLLEGE — Bangor, Pennsylvania. Population, 5,273. Luke Nosal (They/Them) always knew they didn’t fit the mold. In a rural town where there were no out queer, transgender or non-binary people and little diversity, Nosal found themselves struggling with their identity growing up.
Once Nosal found their love of music and art, they’d found their place; they joined their high school’s music program, became the drum major of the marching band and was cast as the Cat in the Hat in Suessical earning them a Freddie Award nomination. Performing was in their blood.
One day, a CD belonging to their mother of Beethoven’s music entered their life, it was Beethoven’s 9th symphony that stuck out to Nosal, the storyline of the music drew them in, it was “transformative”.
“When I would get really mad or really upset,” Nosal describes, “I would just go in my room and I would play some really fierce classical music and I would just conduct my emotions out…I was just like I have to pursue this, this is what I have to do.”
While Nosal’s parents didn’t approve, at first, they began the journey to become a conductor by enrolling in Penn State’s School of Music. As they developed into the true conductor they’d always dreamed of being, they realized one of their life long dreams is to have a professional orchestra to give visibility to the LGBTQA Community. However, there was another part of their life that helped drive their creative passion for both art and giving a platform to LGBTQA issues.
Enter, Laurel Charleston, a name derived from their mother Laurel Carlson, Nosal found their place amongst Penn State’s diverse drag scene. Laurel has since become a common face amongst drag fans and has become a well known host for many events are the area.
Charleston/Nosal puts in hours of effort to get their drag looks together. For them, having a plan is what makes them shine on stage. Before every show they prefer to take two to three hours to do their makeup including putting on fake nails.
“Preferably if I had a week before a show to get ready, that’s how long it would take me…I have to go to the fabric store, pick out fabric, make a design of what I want to wear, perhaps buy a partner, sew it. That could normally take a day or two,” they describe.
If they want a new wig, they do it on their own from dying to styling; being in independent drag queen means finding ways to save money by becoming their own stylist.
Drag isn’t just about the glam for Charleston/Nosal, acceptance is what they strive to show the world through their drag and their music. They attend rallies regularly and speak up for equality for all people, being active in the LGBTQA Community is integral to their being.
To further their career in the arts, Nosal is currently applying to graduate programs to study conducting and has recently been able to work alongside one of their idols, Marin Alsop, as they prepare for the journey.
In April 2019 Nosal will also be performing in their first Penn State School of Theatre production as a gender neutral character in Men on Boats. Men on Boats is a “comical but never camp, pointed but never political, rousing historical saga...a provocative meditation on gender and historical memory that offers a new lens through which to view our shared past.” (PSU Theatre Website).
Nosal wants to do what has never been done before and they are making it happen by using their platform for good.
Below view how Nosal speaks up for the issues they care deeply about and believe in.