A growing number of high-profile conservatives have spent the last year demonizing LGBTQ people in an effort to push them further to the margins of society.
Lately, that’s led many right-wing figures to become bizarrely infatuated with drag shows.
For Republicans who try to enforce rigid and outmoded gender roles in nearly all aspects of society, drag shows are an easy target. People — often, queer people — happily wearing clothes that defy gender norms embody a world conservatives want us to believe is dangerous, especially to children.
Ironically, these claims have come from members of a party servile to former President Donald Trump, who’s made sexual comments about his daughter in the past, been accused of walking in on teen beauty pageant participants as they were changing, danced around with Jeffrey Epstein, and offered kind words to Epstein's partner Ghislaine Maxwell ahead of her trial.
Nonetheless, Republicans baselessly claim queer people, and drag queens especially, are the real child predators. And across the board, they’re embracing extreme measures to oppress and ostracize these people.
Peppermint on proposed TX anti-drag billJune 11, 202204:58
Just last week, Bryan Slaton, a Texas Republican state lawmaker, said he would propose a bill banning people from hosting drag shows in the presence of minors. The bill was Slaton’s response to a family-friendly drag show at a Dallas gay bar this month.
Asked whether he’d pursue similar legislation in his state, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested last week that child protective services in his state might consider it “child endangerment” to bring children to drag shows.
Several other Republicans have spewed hateful rhetoric about LGBTQ people, as the party has evoked age-old homophobic slurs — like “groomer” — to demonize queer people and others who defy conservative parenting principles.
All of this rhetoric has fed a culture of violence and intimidation that is being waged against queer people and their supporters.
On Saturday, members of the Proud Boys extremist militia disrupted an event in California where people in drag were reading stories to children. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime after attendees reported that the militia members hurled homophobic slurs at the event’s participants.
In a separate incident on Saturday, 31 people affiliated with the white nationalist group Patriot Front were arrested after piling into a moving truck to allegedly disrupt a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Police said that a smoke grenade was found among their belongings, and that the group showed up intent on starting a riot.
And in Arizona last month, a right-wing extremist who has appeared in photos with several local politicians threatened to “hunt” LGBTQ supporters in Phoenix, saying in a video that these people are “not safe.”
Repeated attacks and harassment of LGBTQ people prove they’re, indeed, not safe in our society. And that’s exactly how conservatives want it.