Michigan Pride, June 15, 2019 | Susan J. Demas
Updated, 4:04 p.m. 12/2/22
With a month still to go in 2022, a recent analysis found there were more than a hundred incidents nationwide targeting drag performances.
According to the GLAAD analysis, the states with the highest number of drag events targeted by protests and threats in 2022 were:
- Texas (10)
- North Carolina (10)
- Illinois (8)
- Tennessee (6)
- California (6)
- Georgia (5)
GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization, released what it is calling “the first comprehensive count and analysis” of increased threats, protests and violent action against specific drag events.
In all, GLAAD noted 124 incidents in 2022 of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats targeting drag events, the majority of which occurred during Pride festivities in June and into September, October and November.
Included in the count were instances that ran the gamut from false rhetoric against drag performers used in campaign ads all the way to the firebombing of a Tulsa donut shop after it hosted a drag event in October.
Not included in the tally was the November 19 mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, in which a 22-year-old suspect opened fire, killing five people and injuring 25 others. The incident occurred shortly after the club had hosted a drag event. However, the motive of the attacker, whose attorneys describe as nonbinary, has yet to be formally declared.
Only one incident was reported in Michigan, and while the report did not specify that was, it was likely a June 25 event that was part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s Drag Queen Story Time program.
At that event, performer Jadein Black was confronted by a group who identified themselves as members of the Proud Boys, the violent, right-wing extremist organization classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Using a megaphone to try and drown out Black with Bible verses, they were eventually convinced to leave by police.
It was one of a number of incidents involving extremist groups, including the Patriot Front and local white supremacist chapters.
Other incidents included:
- In Sparks, Nevada, children at the town library ran for safety from a Proud Boys protester carrying a gun in June.
- Also in June, in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, police arrested 31 Patriot Front members who had traveled from ten different states armed with riot gear and smoke grenades to protest a Pride event that had been targeted online by LibsOfTikTok, a far-right social media account frequently retweeted by GOP officials and operatives in Michigan and nationwide.
- In Memphis, Tenn., local leaders said Proud Boys were among the armed protesters that showed up to a drag event in September at the Museum of Science and Industry, forcing the event’s last-minute cancellation.
Only South Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Washington, D.C., didn’t report incidents, although GLAAD noted it was possible they did not receive media coverage.
GLAAD also reviewed legislation involving drag performers, with eight states introducing anti-drag bills this year and proposals floated in six other states, including Michigan, to restrict or ban drag.
In Michigan, despite no evidence of any drag events in the state’s schools, lawmakers announced in June a proposal that public school districts not be allowed to “present to the pupils, or display to the pupils a drag show or drag presentation,” while allowing parents or legal guardians to sue for up to $10,000 in damages if their school did so. The effort was supported by failed GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon.
It was the culmination of a year of anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry in Michigan that began with the objection to a scheduled drag queen performance in Howell that was eventually canceled.
The report also documented a connection between several of the drag events that experienced threats and protests after being targeted by right-wing media outlets, including Fox News and the Daily Wire, and social media accounts like LibsOfTikTok.
“The outlets and accounts often misrepresented what would occur at upcoming drag events, spinning them as harmful to children, and protests or threats would follow,”’said the report. “A Media Matters analysis in November found that disturbing misinformation about drag had ramped up on Fox News and the Daily Wire in the weeks before the Tulsa firebombing, with Tucker Carlson falsely claiming that drag queens “want to sexualize children,” and the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh calling on police to “break down the doors” of LGBTQ clubs and arrest drag queens.”
It was also noted that the targeting of drag-related events would take place not just before an event, but afterward as well.
“In June, LibsOfTikTok targeted the Couer D’Alene, Idaho ‘Pride In The Park’ (where 31 anti-LGBTQ protesters were arrested) ahead of the event, saying that a ‘family friendly drag dance party’ was being promoted by the Idaho Satanic Temple,” the report stated. “Afterward, the account shared a doctored video of a drag performer that spread misinformation and falsely alleged indecent exposure during the performance, which led the drag performer to file a lawsuit in September.”
While the LibsOfTikTok account was briefly suspended by Twitter in September after its posts were connected in news reports to bomb threats made against children’s hospitals that provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth, the account was eventually reinstated.
Correction: The location of the Ann Arbor story time was incorrect.
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