GLAAD: Drag events faced at least 124 protests and significant threats in 2022

Graphic courtesy of GLAAD

Illinois ranks third in number of drag events targeted.

A report from GLAAD this week found that there had been at least 124 incidents at drag events in 2022, not including the attack on Club Q in Colorado springs.

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

The states with the highest number of drag events targeted by protests and threats in 2022 were:

  • Texas (10)
  • North Carolina (10)
  • Illinois (8)
  • Tennessee (6)
  • California (6)
  • Georgia (5)

Only three states, South Dakota, Rhode Island, West Virginia plus Washington, DC., had no reports of incidents.

Many of the incidents took place in cities that had been seen as LGBTQ havens, such as New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, and college towns.

GLAAD said a number of the events that were targeted were first covered by right-wing outlets like the Daily Wire or Fox News or right-wing social media accounts like Libs of TikTok. In fact, according to Media Matters, Fox covered drag queens and transgender people more than they covered the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The group listed some incidents that had gotten particularly threatening:

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, this October, security video captured a person smashing the windows of a donut shop before lighting a Molotov cocktail and firebombing the storefront.

  • In Eugene, Oregon, this October, protesters carried semiautomatic rifles and threw rocks and smoke bombs.
  • In 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 Libs Of TikTok.

There have been nine bills submitted targeting family-friendly drag events, including in nearby Michigan.

  • In Tennessee this November, Sen. Jack Johnson filed a bill that aims to ban drag performance in public.
  • In Texas, two bills were proposed in June and November. One proposal seeks to ban minors from attending drag story hours or similar events, and another would classify drag as a “sexually oriented business” on par with strip clubs.
  • A federal bill introduced in October and backed by 30 House Republicans would ban drag shows at any federally-funded institution such as libraries and schools.
  • Idaho news outlets reported in October that a bill banning drag in public would be introduced in the upcoming legislative session.
  • In Michigan this June, lawmakers announced a plan to ban drag from schools despite no evidence of any drag events at Michigan schools.
  • In Arizona, state senator Vincent Leach announced in June he and other Republican colleagues would attempt to ban minors from drag events.
  • In Florida this June, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he would consider a proposal to ban minors from drag events. Later that month, he filed a complaint against a Miami restaurant that held an all-ages drag show.