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Disney Drag Brunch Canceled After Targeted by Right-Wing Trolls

Disney Drag Brunch Canceled After Targeted by Right-Wing Trolls

This article first appeared at The Advocate. You can read the original article here.

A bar in Texas was forced to cancel an all-ages drag show after receiving a barrage of threatening messages from online conservatives.

Cool Beans Bar and Grill in Denton reports receiving “aggressive phone calls and hateful comments” over a Disney-themed drag brunch open to all ages. The event was scheduled for Sunday, until right-wing figures began falsely attacking them for “grooming children” in the days before the event was scheduled.

Located in a town 40 miles from Dallas, on the campus of the University of North Texas, Cool Beans caters mostly to college-age students. A former employee has called the venue a welcoming space for the queer community. 

The venue used to have a weekly trivia night ran by "a fabulous, infamous, and queer host who made everyone feel like they belonged, the employee, Megan Queen, told the Dallas Observer.

Before the weekend began, Sara Gonzales, host of a conservative program on Glen Beck's Blaze TV, took to Twitter to target the drag show to her 250,000 followers.

She wrote, alongside a flier for the event: “Cool Beans Bar and Grill in Denton, TX is hosting an ALL AGES drag show THIS SUNDAY. Who’s coming with me to shut it down?”

The next figure to fuel the online flames was former State Senator and current gubernatorial candidate, Don Huffines, who tweeted: “The devil is coming for your kids.”

He added, “What are you going to do to stop this madness?”

Gonzales claimed it is “child abuse” to take “young children to sexually explicit shows where men dress up like women and dance provocatively for money.”

Without evidence, she accused Cool Beans staff of being “pedophiles” who were using the Disney theme to “indoctrinate” children.

Hours later, Cool Beans announced the cancellation of the show, though a statement from the bar’s management maintained that they did not make their decision because they agreed with the false claims, but because they wished to keep their patrons and employees safe.

“Having a safe space that day, or any day, takes precedence over all else,” Cool Beans wrote. “That being said, our drag brunch has caught a lot of attention from certain political groups who have made it very clear that they aren’t happy about this event. With today’s climate, it’s better to be safe than sorry and unfortunately, this is that exact situation.”

Both Gonzales and Huffines declared victory on Twitter following the announcement, but Cool Beans' management wasn't having it.

“To those of you out there who have forced us to make this decision, shame on you! Shame on you for putting fear into us with your threats, your horrible DMs, your aggressive phone calls, and hateful comments. This is not a ‘win’ for you,” they said.

“We employ college-aged students and you have made them fearful in a place where before this day they have felt protected and safe. Us canceling is not out of agreement, but out of fear for our employees’, performers’, and customers’ safety.”

Patrick Riccards, executive director of Life After Hate, a nonprofit that helps rehabilitate former far-right advocates as they leave the movement, believes the recent targeting of transgender individuals, and by extension drag shows, stems from the same bigotry held against other marginalized groups.  

"The drag community is, in part, about celebrating uniqueness and embracing what makes one different," Riccards told the Observer. "It is the antithesis of the far right's thinking, which focuses on the singularity of how a community thinks, speaks, acts, and even dresses."

The outlet noted that Gozales has also called for her followers to target another drag show in Katy, Texas. 

Gonzales and Huffines are just two voices in a larger wave of backlash against drag performers. In the past few months, countless local drag events have been targeted by Proud Boys and other far-right groups who falsely accused any performances involving gender or LGBTQ+ individuals of “grooming” children.

Tags: Drag, Texas

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