(NEXSTAR) — A drag show at a Dallas-area gay bar over the weekend is causing a stir and discussion over whether or not kids should be around drag events – it’s the latest in a storied battle.
Viral videos circulated on Monday appear to show a few children with adult guardians at a club while a drag queen danced to an Ariana Grande song. The event, held at the Mr. Misster club in Cedar Springs, Texas, was called “Drag Your Kids to Pride” and was advertised as a “family friendly” edition of its weekly drag queen brunch events, NBC News explains.
The event was met with protesters outside the venue and many took issue with a neon sign seen behind the dancers reading, “It’s Not Gonna Lick Itself.” Protesters held signs reading “Stop Grooming the Kids,” LGBTQ+ news outlet Them reports. Mr. Misster did not immediately respond for comment.
On Monday, Texas Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Mineola) said he will introduce legislation that will ban minors from drag shows. In a letter, Slaton called parents who take their kids to events with drag queens “perverted adults” who are “obsessed with sexualizing young children.”
Several non-Texan Republican leaders spoke out about the event, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert, the latter of whom urged taking children to church. Meanwhile, LGBTQ and equality advocates have condemned Slaton’s comments as targeted harassment.
In a statement to the Advocate, Equality Texas CEO Ricardo Martinez said in part: “In a state that has a history of being openly hostile to LGBTQ+ people, drag shows have been creating safe places for our community for nearly a century. As early as the 1930s there was a thriving drag scene in San Antonio.”
Many have taken issue with certain lawmakers’ seemingly prioritizing drag queen shows over gun legislation in the wake of the Robb Elementary School mass shooting in Uvalde just weeks ago. The shooting left 19 children and two teachers dead and reignited calls for lawmakers to do more about guns – particularly members of the Republican party, who have highlighted mental health and school security instead.
In a tweet on Monday, Texas Democrats tweeted: “Seems like there are a few more pressing things we should be doing to actually look out for the well-being of Texas children.”
Transgender activist and writer Charlotte Clymer, in a satiric tweet, wrote: “My kid is never going to a drag show. It’s inappropriate for fully-clothed drag artists to dance in front of kids. Instead, I’m taking him to an NFL game where he can sit beside me as I drink and watch a cheerleader twerk in her cowgirl boots at midfield.”
The intersection of drag queens and children has been a hot topic nationwide for years, in particular, “Drag Queen Story Hour,” which are typically library-set reading times hosted by a drag queen. As recently as Monday, the mayor of Apex, North Carolina, ordered the cancelation of one such event at the city’s Pride Festival after alleged complaints.
Drag Queen Story Hour is a chapter-led organization that says it aims to “capture the imagination and play of gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role models.”
Questions about drag have arisen in conversations around transgender identities, as the two are often conflated, despite having two different meanings. In its most basic sense, “drag” typically refers to an art form of men (either heterosexual or queer) dressing as women for theater – a tradition that dates back to Shakespearean days, BBC reports.
Trans people have been integral to the development of drag, particularly American performers like activist and Gay Liberation Front co-founder Marsha P. Johnson, who were at the forefront of LGBTQ+ civil rights in 1970s New York City
Often, drag queens use their drag for more serious activism and even light-hearted comedy. It’s important to note that the art form of drag is not inherently sexual or tied to any one sexual orientation or identity.
As Metro reports, “transvestic fetishism” is the practice of a person dressing as the opposite sex for arousal. The sexualities and gender identities of people who participate in the activity are wide and not generally tied to drag. In the mainstream, TV shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race” have helped dispel previous notions of drag queens to wide audiences.
Many of these different terms and concepts have been used interchangeably amid recent legislation across the U.S.
In March, Florida passed its House Bill 1557, referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which not only prevents teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues in classrooms, but allows parents/guardians to sue teachers and/or schools who discuss these topics. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott previously directed the state’s Department of Family and Protect Services to investigate parents who help their kids get gender-affirming care.
Meanwhile, Louisiana’s Fairness in Women’s Sports Act became law, despite opposition and lack of signature by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. The act requires K-12 schools to assign sports teams based on biological sex assigned at birth.