Drag shows targeted by right-wing groups every 2.5 days, GLAAD report says

The states with the most threats and demonstrations against drag events in 2022 were Texas, North Carolina and Illinois.

In 2022, drag events in America were targeted by homophobic protesters a whopping 38 percent of the year — or every 2.5 days. That’s according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD for short, a nongovernmental organization that monitors the media.

The Los Angeles Blade reports that GLAAD, which initially was established to counter defamatory coverage of gay and lesbian demographics and their media and entertainment portrayals, released data last week supporting those figures documenting the rise of anti-gay activity.

Many of these assaults turned violent, like the recent mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

GLAAD report
Counter-protesters for transgender rights yell and use noisemakers to disrupt speakers last month in New York City. Around 50 pro-transgender rights activists confronted about a dozen right-wing organizers during an event about gender identity in City Hill Park. (Photo: Alex Kent/Getty Images)

“There is clear and present danger against our community and threats… we really haven’t seen it at this level in over a decade, if ever,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said on a recent “Takeaway” podcast, The Blade reported.

Right-wing media outlets like Fox News Channel and The Daily Wire and social media accounts such as Libs Of TikTok targeted and physically protested against a number of the drag events.

They frequently exaggerated what would happen at planned drag events, painting them as unsafe for kids and capable of inciting negativity.

The states that saw the most threats and demonstrations against drag events in 2022 were Texas with 20, North Carolina with 10, Illinois with eight, Tennessee and California with six each and Georgia with five.

While GLAAD — which has since expanded its media-monitoring founding to include bisexual and transgender people — recorded many menacing moments in smaller towns and cities in America’s Midwest and South, a handful of incidents also happened in hubs with larger LGBTQ populations and more inclusive communities, including four in New York.

Violence or the use of weapons was present in numerous occurrences involving extremist organizations, including the Proud Boys, Patriot Front and local white nationalist groups.

Someone sent a bomb threat via email to a South Carolina local news station, alleging that there were multiple bombs put at a restaurant hosting a drag brunch and that they would murder the performers and patrons if discovered.

In Ohio, a church hosted a drag story hour that was protested by about 50 Proud Boys extremists wearing full face masks, helmets, flak jackets and long weapons. In Arlington, Texas, alleged Proud Boys obstructed sidewalks at many LGBTQ-inclusive events while falsely accusing participants of being “pedophiles.”

In Katy, Texas, armed protesters disrupted a drag bingo fundraiser by saluting in the Nazi fashion. Local authorities in Memphis, Tennessee, said Proud Boys were among the armed protesters who showed up before a scheduled drag show at the Museum of Science and Industry in September, prompting the last-minute cancellation of the event.

In June, police in Couer d’Alene, Idaho, detained 31 Patriot Front members who had come to the city from 10 states equipped with smoke grenades and riot gear to oppose a Pride celebration singled out online by Libs of TikTok.

GLAAD also examined legislative initiatives to limit or outlaw drag in states like Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Idaho and Arizona. Extremist legislators typically used neighborhood drag events as the impetus for new legislation that would outlaw open drag performances, such as those at Pride festivals, or prohibit minors from viewing drag artists, even at educational library events like “Drag Story Hour.”

Additionally, there has reportedly been a notable increase in protests and threats of violence in Canada directed toward drag events and performances, the most recent occurring in Kelowna, British Columbia, early this month.

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