HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — A GLAAD report released last month is shedding light on the fraught state of drag artist-led events in the United States, and North Carolina is at the front of the pack.
According to the report, North Carolina and Texas are tied for the highest number of drag events targeted by protests or threats in the country in 2022, the bulk of those threats coming in June, which is Pride Month, or between September and November when the report was published.
Of the 124 reported incidents, ten of them were in North Carolina with another ten in Texas. Illinois was the next highest with eight.
The report was based on news reporting of the events, so the numbers across the nation are likely higher if protests or threats were not reported, according to GLAAD.
At least two drag events have faced protest or cancelation in the month of December, which drives North Carolina’s number even higher. Salty Sistas in Sneads Ferry was targeted by Proud Boys over a holiday-themed drag brunch it had planned to hold Dec. 10.
Salty Sistas canceled their event after consulting with the FBI, WNCT reported.
A drag event held in Southern Pines on Dec. 3 was also the subject of protests and harassment, the organizers said, and as it went on at the Sunrise Theater, the lights went out due to the attack on two Duke Energy substations in Moore County that plunged thousands into darkness for days.
While no officials have confirmed any motivation or suspects for this attack, warrants have been obtained, and the attack left the already embattled LGBTQ community even more on edge due to social media activity. The Moore County attack came just days after the Department of Homeland Security warned of a potential increase in domestic terrorism, particularly targeting the LGBTQ+ community, Jewish community and vital infrastructure.
- In June, protestors showed up to a Drag Queen Story Time at Bookmarks in Winston-Salem
- Proud Boys crashed a storytime at a Wilmington library
- A Pride Month event in Black Mountain drew protests
- A Hickory Drag Queen Story Hour was canceled during Pride Month, but WSOC-TV reported it was a staffing issue
- A Raleigh museum canceled a drag event after a backlash
- A Monroe restaurant came under fire for their drag brunch
- Apex Pride was almost forced to cancel Drag Queen Story Time due to threats
- A Charlotte congressional candidate attempted to get a Charlotte Drag Queen Story Hour canceled
- A Halloween-themed drag brunch was targeted by Proud Boys in Sanford
- Proud Boys showed up at a drag brunch at Umami Bistro in Raleigh
- Organizers changed age limits after backlash in Southern Pines, but went on with the show even after the lights went out
- Sneads Ferry canceled a drag event after backlash and intimidation
Other anti-LGBTQ+ North Carolina news
Aside from drag events being targeted, other aspects of the LGBTQ community’s public life have faced increased scrutiny and backlash.
The LGBTQ+ community makes up 7.1% of the adult population in the United States. By July 2022, over 240 anti-LGBTQ bills had been filed in states across the country. Many of these bills focus specifically on transgender people, particularly trans children in schools. While it’s hard to give an exact figure, it’s likely that there are significantly more bills regulating trans children’s ability to play K-12 sports than there are transgender children playing K-12 sports.
In North Carolina, a transgender woman resigned her position on the Asheville City Schools Board of Education after a man that reportedly represented the ADF repeatedly came to meetings to stoke controversy, wanting the focus of the board to remain on their duties and not on her as a person.
Grassroots groups have targeted books with LGBTQ+ content in schools. Gender Queer: A Memoir was removed from the Alamance-Burlington School System after the superintendent deemed it a “disruption to the learning environment.”
The now-defunct group Take Back Our Schools – GCS was the subject of pushback from the Greensboro LGBTQ community when students, staff and community members spoke at a Guilford County Schools board meeting, asking the school board for more help and support for LGBTQ students and staff, who had been targeted by Facebook posts on the TBOS page.
Books in Cabarrus County were also challenged by parents and Iredell County Schools took time in a school board meeting to discuss “furries” after false rumors swirled about students using litter boxes.
This is a common urban myth that has circulated across many states over the years and no one has ever found it to have any basis in reality, but one NBC reporter found a Colorado school that was stocking litter in the event of prolonged lockdowns.
Public officials in North Carolina have even been accused of promoting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and idealogy, particularly Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, who is the current frontrunner as the GOP’s candidate for the 2024 gubernatorial race. He came under fire for referring to LGBTQ+ people as “filth” during a church sermon in 2021, prompting local LGBTQ groups to demand resignation and people to protest.