“The events of this past weekend were horrifying,” Slaton said in reference to the show, adding that the video shows a “disturbing trend” where “perverted adults” are “obsessed” with “sexualizing young children.” He added that he would never take his children to a drag show and believes his Republican colleagues wouldn’t, either.
Here’s the thing, Bryan: You don’t have to! But other families are well within their rights to do so. Drag shows are a fun way to build and develop community, support local artists, and patronize local and often queer-owned businesses. And while many shows are 18- (or even 21-) plus anyway, on account of, for example, taking place in a bar or selling alcohol at the venue, this event was clearly family-friendly. No one is sneaking their toddler into an adults-only drag show for nefarious reasons.
AJ Crews, who works at Mr. Misster, spoke to local outlet WFFA about the event, saying there were a “lot less people drinking” than usual and people came from “all walks of life” to enjoy Pride month festivities. According to the bar, money from the event went to a local LGBTQ+ youth organization.
Thankfully, this proposal won’t even be considered until early January 2023, when lawmakers return to the state Capitol for their next session. There are also the obvious questions of how a law like this would be enforced and how parents or businesses would be penalized if the bill is signed into law.
But it’s not only about whether or not legislation like this has a chance of making it into law (though with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott at the head of the state, that in itself is a real possibility) but the social impact of bills like this even existing. Conservatives are already riled up about trans girls in sports, kids reading books by and about LGBTQ+ people, and libraries daring to stock books about sex and gender. Now conservatives want to police how other people parent their kids. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Bills like this—even if they don’t make it into law—also send a terrible, hateful message to all LGBTQ+ people, including youth. Again: There is nothing innately sexual or “adult” about being LGBTQ+, questioning, or an ally or advocate. Kids should be able to enjoy a kid-appropriate, family-friendly drag show if they’re lucky enough to have adults in their life who will go with them. Just like kids should be able to attend a drag queen story hour or a local Pride festival or parade.
LGBTQ+ youth are already vulnerable and marginalized, and trans youth, especially, face disproportionate rates of bullying, harassment, and even suicidal ideation. Trying to isolate LGBTQ+ youth and allies from their peers is cruel and disturbing, and just another way of attempting to keep people in the closet. No matter how ridiculous and far-fetched a Republican’s legislation is, we have to fight it seriously to make sure it doesn’t become law or inspire mass copycats.