An LGBTQ2S+ youth centre in Ontario has reportedly faced attacks after a video promoting an upcoming youth drag show was featured on the popular alt-right Twitter account Libs of TikTok on July 6.
The account took aim at OutLoud North Bay for hosting its first-ever youth drag show. On July 5, Libs of TikTok shared a screenshot of a Facebook post in which the organization invited aspiring youth performers to sign up for the event. “If you have an interest in dressing up in drag and performing, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE,” reads the post, which is accompanied by a flyer featuring a young person wearing lipstick and eyeliner as they blow bubbles.
Libs of TikTok shared the post to its more than 1.3 million followers and wrote, “Youth organization puts out advertisement looking for kids to perform in drag.” At the time of publication, the tweet gained more than 10,000 likes and 3,300 retweets.
“Get ready to strut your stuff.” Youth organization puts out advertisement looking for kids to perform in drag. pic.twitter.com/r9fCo3kxYJ
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) July 6, 2022
Seth Compton, the founder and executive director of OutLoud North Bay, said that staff members and youth who visit the centre were targeted by hateful messages following Libs of TikTok’s post. In addition to thousands of negative emails and comments on OutLoud North Bay’s social media calling the organization “groomers,” Compton reported receiving death threats.
“People are sharing my personal photo saying I’m a pedophile and adults here should be tossed into a wood chipper,” he told CTV News. “Kids have received messages that they’re groomed, and parents have received messages that they’re child abusers.”
To protect its patrons and staff, OutLoud North Bay has been forced to make its Twitter account private. The North Bay Police Service has reportedly deployed resources to protect the organization from harassment and potential violence, as a representative for law enforcement told CTV News.
This isn’t the first time that Libs of TikTok has gone after the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Tyler Wrynn, a non-binary English teacher based in Oklahoma, was singled out by the account in April after posting support for queer and trans students in a viral TikTok video. In the post, Wrynn states, “If your parents don’t accept you for who you are, f*** them. I’m your parents now.”
Wrynn was reportedly let go from their teaching position after their school board allegedly received anonymous complaints about Wrynn “grooming” children.
Numerous other LGBTQ2S+ individuals have been harassed and doxxed after being featured on Libs of TikTok. On April 4, the account featured a TikTok post in which a 5th-grade teacher discussed sharing her LGBTQ2S+ identity with her students, and concluded that all openly queer teachers should be terminated from their jobs. “Any teacher who comes out to their students should be fired on the spot,” Libs of TikTok wrote at the time.
Libs of TikTok’s posts have occasionally spilled over into real-world altercations. After the account created a “MEGA DRAG THREAD” in which it accused LGBTQ2S+ organizers of “trying to confuse, corrupt or sexualize kids,” a Drag Queen Story Hour event in San Lorenzo, California, was broken up by members of the violent alt-right group Proud Boys.
The account also targeted a Pride festival in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in the weeks before 35 members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front were arrested on June 11 after descending upon the event.
According to Media Matters, Twitter has done little to stop Libs of TikTok from using its influence to persecute the LGBTQ2S+ community. Although the account was temporarily suspended by Twitter for its posts harassing Pride festivals, many of the original tweets remain active on the platform—including the one that led to the clash in Coeur d’Alene.
In fact, the page remains more influential than ever. Leading alt-right figures like Fox News host Tucker Carlson and podcast host Joe Rogan regularly share its content to their millions of followers, and Libs of TikTok has begun influencing mainstream Republican policy in the United States. Christina Pushaw, the press secretary of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, reportedly shouted out the account weeks before her boss signed the state’s notorious “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law.
But in the face of these continued attacks on the community, OutLoud North Bay said the drag show will still go on as planned. Although Compton noted that “last week was tough,” he vowed in an Instagram post not to fail the youth the organization is working so hard to protect.
“We will rise from this, just like we have with any other barrier that has come our way,” he wrote on July 11. “What we do at OutLoud has saved the youth in our community.”