December 16, 2022

Equality Texas, the largest nonprofit in Texas focused on securing full equality for LGBTQ+ people, and GLAAD, the world's largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, are releasing new research showing additional targeting and threat of violence to drag performers, venues and attendees. 

Equality Texas has been independently documenting incidents against drag throughout the state. Added to GLAAD’s research released on November 22, the number of targeted events has increased to at least 20 across Texas. GLAAD’s documented total nationwide now tops 141 incidents in 47 states.

In Texas different legislators have proposed the “Drag Tax,” which would reclassify any business that hosts a drag performance as a “sexually oriented business.” That designation is currently reserved for venues that host adult entertainment that requires significantly less costume. The designation comes with an additional tax levied per each customer that enters the establishment, which would shut down venues across the state that provide safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.

GLAAD and Equality Texas’ updated research is here; updated map attached, below.

Quote from Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas
Every time extremists turn their attention to drag performances, they amplify the lie that these performances are somehow dangerous. On the contrary, when extremists protest library story time they are interrupting programming that encourages a healthy love of reading, simply because they hate the reader. The same extremists and politicians who support them have actually failed to protect Texas children. Why are they not focused on guns in schools, our broken CPS system, and any of the many other issues that demand our attention? A little glitter and heavy contouring never hurt anyone. The cost of these malicious lies is extreme, and we’ve seen a marked increase of bullying and violence against LGBTQ+ youth and adults alike. Drag is a joyful way to play with gender expression, which can be liberating for young people who are learning how they fit in the world. Businesses and performers that create these safe spaces deserve to be free from harassment and fear. 

Quote from Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD:
These attacks against drag events and performers are part of a truly alarming trend of targeting LGBTQ people and youth through baseless legislation, vile rhetoric, school censorship, book bans and intimidation. Extremists are increasingly emboldened by reckless politicians who smear LGBTQ people and our allies. Their disinformation is spread widely by extremist accounts on social media and encourages violence. GLAAD urges media to challenge politicians spreading false and harmful information about the LGBTQ community, and ask how they are working to ensure every citizen is safe.

Examples of documented incidents in Texas:

  • Neo-Nazis with swastikas and transphobic signs at a Pflugerville restaurant hosting a drag brunch.
  • Armed protestors, raising hands in Nazi salutes, disrupt drag bingo fundraiser in Katy.
  • Alleged Proud Boys disrupt multiple LGBTQ-inclusive events in Arlington, blocking the sidewalk, falsely claiming attendees were "pedophiles."
  • Extremist protesters with a history of recording and photographing children without consent protest drag performances at a restaurant in Houston.
  • San Antonio concert venue cancels upcoming drag shows for the year, citing threats against performers and staff.

Additional documented incidents nationwide:

  • A bomb threat emailed to a local news station in South Carolina, claiming several bombs were planted at a restaurant hosting drag brunch and threatening to kill performers and attendees.
  • About 50 members of the Proud Boys extremist group armed with long guns and in helmets, full face masks and flak jackets protest drag story hour at a church in Ohio.
  • Fresno police added resources to a drag festival after a city councilman posted on social media about the “sickening” event.

Additional resources: