GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) recently announced a startling discovery: 124 incidents in 2022 of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats targeting specific drag events. The majority of the incidents occurred during Pride festivities in June and into September, October, and November, including false rhetoric against performers deployed in campaign ads for the midterm elections. 

The disturbing news hits even closer to home when the details are broken down by state and statistics reveal North Carolina and Texas have tied for the top spot on the list, both with ten reported incidents in the current calendar year so far.

In North Carolina, among the events reported were incidents in Apex, with protestors attempting to stop a drag story time hour this past June, which featured female impersonators/drag queens scheduled to read for attendees, including children. Apex’s Festival Commission pulled the event from its sponsored Pride list, but Equality NC stepped in as a sponsor and it continued as planned, 

The tiny town of Fuquay-Varina refused to offer sponsorship for Pride events this past June 11, but the celebration took place and was organized by residents, and a relatively recent drag brunch fundraiser held October 30 in Sanford was disrupted by masked Proud Boys protesters. 

The analysis shows increasingly violent rhetoric and incidents as the year progressed, including the firebombing of a Tulsa donut shop that had hosted a drag event in October.

Within the past two weeks, legislation targeting public drag performance was introduced in Tennessee and Texas, leading to a total of eight proposed anti-drag bills this year.

The states with the highest number of drag events targeted by protests and threats in 2022 were North Carolina (10),Texas (10), Illinois (8), Tennessee (6), California (6) and Georgia (5).

While many of the incidents were reported in smaller cities and towns in the South and Midwest, a number also took place in areas with higher LGBTQ populations and LGBTQ-inclusive communities. New York saw four protest incidents, three of which took place in New York City. 

Some of the more violent or threatening incidents took place in Eugene, Oregon; San Francisco suburbs, and Oklahoma’s capital, Tulsa. Events were also targeted in larger cities including the aforementioned New York, Philadelphia, Memphis, Dallas, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, Miami, Denver, and Phoenix.

A number of the drag events targeted by threats and protests in person were first targeted by right-wing media outlets like Fox News and the Daily Wire, and social media accounts like LibsOfTikTok. 

The outlets and accounts often misrepresented what would occur at upcoming drag events, spinning them as harmful to children, and protests or threats would follow. 

A Media Matters report from June found that Fox News had devoted more hours to targeting drag queens and transgender people than to coverage of the January 6 insurrection hearings. 

Another Media Matters analysis, in November, found that over the top misinformation about drag had ramped up on Fox News and the Daily Wire in the weeks before the Tulsa firebombing, with Tucker Carlson falsely claiming that drag queens “want to sexualize children,” and the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh calling on police to “break down the doors” of LGBTQ clubs and arrest drag queens.

Sometimes the targeting came full-circle, with right-wing media hyping up negative attention ahead of an event and continuing afterward. In June, LibsOfTikTok targeted the Couer D’Alene, Idaho ‘Pride In The Park’ (where 31 anti-LGBTQ protesters were arrested) ahead of the event, saying that a ‘family friendly drag dance party’ was being promoted by the Idaho Satanic Temple.

Afterward, the account shared a doctored video of a drag performer that spread misinformation and falsely alleged indecent exposure during the performance, which led the drag performer to file a lawsuit in September. The LibsOfTikTok account was briefly suspended by Twitter in September after news reports connected its posts to bomb threats made against children’s hospitals that provide gender-affirming care to transgender youth, but the account was reinstated.

A number of incidents involved violence or weapons. Extremist groups like the Proud Boys, Patriot Front, and local white supremacist chapters were involved in several incidents.

● In Eugene, Oregon, this October, protesters carried semiautomatic rifles and threw rocks and smoke bombs.

● In the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, Illinois, in September, a public library canceled a drag bingo event after receiving a threatening letter that included a bullet and the phrase “more to come.”

● In Memphis, Tennessee, in September, local leaders said Proud Boys were among the armed protesters that showed up to a drag event at the Museum of Science and Industry, forcing the event’s last-minute cancellation.

● In Sparks, Nevada, in June, children at the town library ran for safety from a Proud Boys protester carrying a gun.

● In Couer d’Alene, Idaho, in June, police arrested 31 Patriot Front members who had traveled from ten different states armed with riot gear and smoke grenades to protest a Pride event that had been targeted by LibsOfTikTok online.

GLAAD also reviewed legislative proposals in six states that aim to restrict or ban drag. In most cases, extremist politicians pointed to local drag events as the motivation for new legislation that would ban public drag performances such as those that take place at Pride festivals, or ban minors from observing drag performers, including library events such as Drag Story Hour. 

This release has been edited for space limitations and additional information North Carolina details have been added by Qnotes staff. To read in its original form an in entirety visit the GLAAD website.

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