This right-wing group is trying to set up a system to target drag shows in Texas

The alert was made amid far-right attacks on LGBTQ2S+ people in Texas

A Texas-based anti-LGBTQ2S+ organization and a right-wing activist have teamed up to find a new way to target drag shows.

Texas Family Project and Sara Gonzales, a host with conservative media network BlazeTV have launched Defend Kids Texas, a website where people can report live drag shows as they’re happening, LGBTQ Nation reported. The website—which loads slowly and generates a security check when entered—claims that its mission is to “expose attacks on our children’s innocence” and to highlight the left’s “sexual degeneracy.” 

The site itself doesn’t claim to have successfully shut down any drag shows, and it isn’t clear what happens after a report is sent, beyond Texas Family Project and Gonzales seeing it. But both the organization and the right-wing journalist have targeted specific drag shows on their Twitter accounts (even before the launch of the site), with the San Antonio club Starlighter announcing that it was cancelling drag shows for the rest of the year for safety reasons after the accounts called one of its drag shows “demonic” and linked it with the “sexualization of children.” 

This rhetoric isn’t new for Texas Family Project or Gonzales. The organization states that its mission is to “fight back against the Left’s anti-family extremism” and that it wants to bar gender-affirming care for trans youth and stop “woke teachers [from] exposing children to LGBT ideology.” Gonzales has said that “‘gender affirmation’ is child abuse” and called drag “sexual” indoctrination. Both accounts have interacted with @LibsofTikTok, an account notorious for targeting LGBTQ2S+ people.

Jay Brown, the senior vice president of Programs, Research and Training at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), told Xtra over email that this kind of alert will only escalate violence against LGBTQ2S+ people.

“These attacks in Texas aim to perpetuate lies about who LGBTQ2S+ people are and set a dangerous precedent of singling out members of the community that will only result in higher instances of violence,” Brown said. “It will clearly not stop there unless we take action and hold these bad actors accountable.”

Social media users have made their own attempts to interfere with the site’s function, with some on Twitter trying to flood the site with nonsensical reports—perhaps one reason the site is slow.

EMBED: https://twitter.com/mycheesemonster/status/1599615969508622336

 

EMBED: https://twitter.com/mrsbriggle/status/1599992631903547392

The creation of Defend Kids Texas came just a month before Texas lawmakers pre-filed a bill that would ban venues from holding all-ages drag shows. But advocates have warned that the bill could affect more than just drag performers. Alejandra Caraballo, a former staff attorney at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF), said on Twitter that it would create “literal ban on trans people performing in any capacity,” as it conflates drag performers and trans people.

“A trans actor in a musical singing would suddenly make it ‘drag’, and thus result in the play venue being labelled a ‘sexually oriented business,’” Caraballo tweeted. “This is one of the most radical bills I have ever seen that seeks to completely eliminate trans people out of public life by defining drag to encompass trans people and then criminalizing it.”

The law hasn’t been the only way the Texas GOP has attacked drag shows. In mid-September, the party’s Twitter account tweeted out that a drag brunch was happening in Pflugerville, where neo-Nazis holding transphobic signs and swastika flags then crowded around the venue. Later in the month (in an unrelated incident), a group of Proud Boys and Christian nationalists protested a drag bingo happening in a Houston church, with the crowd holding homophobic and transphobic signs.

“In Texas—an open-carry state—we see multiple armed protests in opposition to LGBTQ2S+ bars, culture and events each week,” Brown told Xtra over email. 

“The LGBTQ2S+ community has been living in a state of emergency—with a deadly shooting in Colorado Springs, a wave of legislation targeting LGBTQ2S+ people, particularly transgender people, attacks on medical providers who provide gender-affirming care and violent, discriminatory rhetoric coming from our leaders,” Brown said. “This hate does not happen in a vacuum.”

Jackie Richardson is a freelance writer based in Western New York. She has worked at The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, and The Sophian.

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