The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | The dangers of backlash against drag performers

Right-wing outrage against drag performers has shown in the last year through legislation.
Grace Smith
Hazel puts on lipstick before the monthly Big Grove Drag Brunch in Iowa City on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. The Big Grove Drag Brunch started in April 2021 after Sanchez-Belle emailed the restaurant a business pitch. “We’re our own bosses,” Hazel said. “You can’t sit around and expect the bookings to come your way if you’re not opening up.”

For the past couple of years, conservatives have made baseless accusations of grooming against the LGBTQ+ community and drag performers in response to events catered to children such as Drag Story Hour and drag performances, fueling violence and bigotry.

Right-wing bigotry and outrage against drag performers have amplified since the emergence of Drag Story Hour, an event where drag queens read and reenact children’s books paired with learning activities of LGBTQ+ inclusive and diverse topics to groups of kids. Conservatives are pushing to end Drag Story Hour and to ban all drag events in public spaces; they believe drag queens are trying to push ‘gay media’ on kids to groom them.

There is a plethora of misinformation, based solely on fear, surrounding drag queens. Those who have deep grievances against them need to turn away from these bad sources and realize that there is no reason to be afraid of drag queens, and certainly no reason to silence and censor them. This wave of hate is a sign that we need to better educate people on the history of the LGBTQ+ community.

The nonprofit Drag Story Hour was created in 2015 by author Michelle Tea in San Francisco. In 2017, the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library helped fund this event. Drag queens who wish to participate receive compensation and training to effectively speak with children about gender identity and the art of drag.

The drag event sparked outrage amongst conservative commentators and politicians, creating even more anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric among their audiences.

In 2019, Larry Householder, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that libraries “should not be a resource for teenage boys to learn how to dress in drag.”

There were over 100,000 signatures on a petition to the American Library Association, protesting its support for the organization.

In 2022, many children-friendly drag events and drag story hours faced threats and protests.

According to NBC, Proud Boys members protested a drag story hour event with shirts saying “Kill your local pedophile” while screaming obscene language and homophobic slurs where children were present. A story-hour event in Oregon was littered with armed protestors.

In Iowa, a bill was introduced in the Iowa Legislature this year banning minors from attending any drag events, and people are concerned that this may lead to stricter policies on drag events. According to WeAreIowa, the bill defines a drag show as a performer who sings, dances, reads, or lip-syncs in front of an audience in drag. Similar bills against drag performers are being introduced or passed in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and North Dakota.

The bigotry from right-wing conservatives and our government is based on a lack of education on drag as an art form. I believe schools should teach classes about the history of the LGBTQ+ community.

The discrimination of drag queens affects everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, who are nine times more likely than non-LGBTQ+ people to be victims of violent hate crimes and discrimination. If conservative politicians stopped this discriminatory rhetoric, we would have fewer harrowing statistics.

Conservatives have the right to remain ignorant of the art of drag, however, their ignorance shouldn’t affect how drag performers and the LGBTQ+ community live their lives. Drag events are not meant to ‘groom’ or ‘convert’ anyone.

Schools should teach students about the history of drag and the LGBTQ+ community about its influence on Hollywood and mainstream media today. This action would encourage young minds to be accepting of marginalized communities.

It is only just to let the LGBTQ+ community thrive and be accepted by newer generations.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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About the Contributors
Natalie Nye, Opinions Columnist
Natalie Nye is a fourth-year Journalism/Mass Communication student with a minor in art at the Univeristy of Iowa. She is an opinions columnist at The Daily Iowan and a freelance writer for Little Village magazine. She also has her own blog, called A Very Public Blog.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.