A group of people armed with AR-15 style assault rifles stood guard outside a Texas drag queen brunch location Sunday to defend people enjoying the show from armed right-wing extremists bent on disrupting it. Eventually, the two sides clashed, and a local journalist caught it on video.
A video showing some of the heated exchanges that ensued went viral on Twitter.
Dallas-area freelance investigative journalist Steven Monacelli posted a thread to his Twitter timeline, where he documented the day’s events.
Monacelli also captured this terrifying image of a right-wing extremist menacing the assembled crowd by intimidating them with a baseball bat wrapped in razor wire.
Kelly Neidert, a known transphobe, was spotted in the distance as one of the people responsible for the event, according to Monacelli.
A far-right activist at the University of North Texas Denton campus, Neidert founded Protect Texas Kids in April, which emerged from her transphobic activities. In addition, her role as the leader of the Young Conservatives of Texas chapter at UNT put her on the political map, Chron reports.
For days, news of the drag brunch at Anderson Distillery and Grill spread on social media, generating complaints and protest calls.
The distillery’s owner, Jay Anderson, said on Facebook last week that there would be no foul language, sexual content, or erotica at the event.
“It was never my intention to host an event that would result in controversy, hate and divisiveness,” he wrote. “It is my intention to welcome people from ALL walks of life into Anderson Distillery & Grill.”
Anderson revealed that his son, Bailey, performs under the drag name Trisha Delish and would be the event host.
Delish tweeted her amazement at the outpouring of support.
“Roanoke TURNED OUT to support our show!!” Delish wrote. “We hit capacity and our kitchen is completely sold out of food from our amazing patrons. I can’t stop tearing up every time I think about how packed the audience was.”
The establishment proudly posted videos and images from the drag brunch to its Facebook page, and probably to the chagrin of detractors, the post received primarily positive feedback -- until it was taken down and replaced by the statement "This Facebook post is no longer available. It may have been removed or the privacy settings of the post may have changed."
Several videos posted to social media showed a packed restaurant and a long line outside.
“Despite the presence of armed extremists across the street, people at the drag brunch in Roanoke, Texas seem to genuinely be enjoying their Sunday afternoon,” Monacelli wrote.
No arrests or police reports resulted from the protests, Roanoke police Sgt. Ryan Otero told The Dallas Morning News. Police were aware of the protests and were stationed in the area as a precaution, the outlet reported.
“We were there to try to keep the peace and basically keep these two sides apart,” Otero said.
According to security experts, right-wing actors have been engaging in stochastic terrorism, which has resulted in several public confrontations between armed extremists and LGBTQ+ communities and allies.