As drag shows in the US are increasingly targeted, the community fears violence (2023)

As drag shows in the US are increasingly targeted, the community fears violence (1)

WARNING: This story contains details of threats of sexual violence

The best way Lauren Mathers can describe what has happened in her community over the past month is that the situation has gotten "out of control."

And when she describes it like that, she is very polite.

As the executive director of Sandhills PRIDE, a North Carolina-based LGBTQ advocacy group, this wasn't her first time putting on a drag show. But it was the first time she had experienced threats of violence, prompting tough conversations about whether the Dec. 3 event should be canceled for the safety of all involved.

In the final days leading up to the show, Mathers said the pressure was so intense, "there came a point where we all had to sit down and say, 'are we going to do it?'"

The lead actress said that there were times when she feared for her life.

Now Mathers is fielding phone calls from reporters across the US asking if she thinks soa targeted attack on the local power gridthat left 45,000 customers without power the night of the show could be linked to efforts to shut it down. She would not speculate, and police said there was no evidence to link them, but added that they were not ruling anything out.

As drag shows in the US are increasingly targeted, the community fears violence (2)

(Video) Drag Queens Fight Back Against Armed Protestors

While this is one specific story, it also serves as an example of a larger issue causing panic in the LGBTQ community in the United States.

Drag shows have become targets of a mix of right-wing extremists, elected officials including some members of Congress, and other fringe agitators. Threats of violence have led to the cancellation of some events. The police and private security were required to keep the others on schedule.

This year alone, more than 120 drag events in 47 different states have faced targeted threats, according to the first of its kindGLAAD report, the world's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. ANDThe Ministry of Homeland Security was alerted, in its latest summary of domestic terrorist threats, that the LGBTQ community is among several groups that could be targeted.

Last month, five people were killed and 17 injured when an attacker opened fire inLGBTQ nightclubin Colorado Springs. The suspect faces more than 300 charges, including hate crimes.

"You have to have a really, really thick skin to live in this world now because it's a lot harder, I feel, than it was 20 years ago," Mathers said.

WATCH | Drag events have become a target of the extreme right in the US:

Threats started on social networks, and then escalated

Reaction to Saturday's performance began shortly after ads were released promoting a drag show called Downtown Divas in Southern Pines, a town about 110 kilometers southwest of Raleigh.

It was a fun night with local talent: Naomi Dix, a drag queen from North Carolina was the headliner; the Southern Pines singer was also on the bill.

Mathers said the threats first appeared on social media: posts that included the words "lynch" and "castrate." Members of the LGBTQ community and people associated with the series have been called "groomers" and "pedophiles".

As drag shows in the US are increasingly targeted, the community fears violence (3)

This specific languageechoes of statementsmade by some prominent Republican politicians, and is echoing on right-wing social networks.

(Video) Tennessee LGBTQ community braces for public drag ban | Nightline

For example, Lauren Boebert, a Republican who represents District 3 in Colorado, announcedmore tweetswith inflammatory language — including one in which she misidentified gender and accused the first transgender cabinet secretary of "grooming" transgender children seeking gender-affirming care.

Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, a frequent conspiracy theorist who represents Georgia's 14th District,defendantopenly gay member of the California state senate that he is a "communist groomer".

Naomi Dix, the main presenter of the show, has also seen disturbing content online. CBC News agreed to identify her only by her stage name for security reasons.

She said that the posts "paint a picture of us as pedophiles and that we care for children with some kind of hidden sexual intention."

- Not long after that, I started receiving some death threats.

As drag shows in the US are increasingly targeted, the community fears violence (4)

She said the messages described "killing me, or raping me, or using objects to rape me ... they would find out where I live or find out about my family." Some threats included racial slurs, she said.

Then came phone calls aimed at the show's sponsors. For some companies, it got to the point "where they couldn't even answer the phone without someone screaming at them," Mathers said.

Then it escalated to personal conflicts.

"One of our sponsors owns a store," Mathers explained. "The kids working the counter ... had people come into the store and yell at them."

Southern Pines Police Chief Nick Polidori said officers were aware of "numerous social media posts related to the event, both in support of the show and posts opposing the show." But in an email to CBC News on Tuesday, he said no formal complaints had been recorded.

'The Right Level of Fierce'

(Video) 'We are in fear for our lives' | Controversy over drag shows leads businesses to cancel events

Mathers said she thinks this show was specifically targeted because it was originally planned as an all-ages event, with a discount for students.

"This caused a real level of vitriol, anger and a really strong reaction to the fact that we were exposing children to withdrawal," she said.

Much of the right-wing criticism of drag has exploded in response to the growing number of all-ages events. Across the US and Canada, some public libraries and community groups have started holding drag queen storytime events. The overall goal is to teach children about diversity and inclusion.

WATCH | All-age events face threats:

"We assumed a lot of it was from people not understanding the nature of the event," said Kevin Dietzel, executive director of the Sunrise Theatre, the venue.

In light of the threats, he said the Downtown Divas show has been changed to allow only those 16 and older into the venue. It was eventually converted to an 18 plus event.

Dix said she uses her platform to create a safe space for the LGBTQ community, where people can be free. In many ways, she said, her performances are no different from any mainstream music experience.

"If you've been to a Miranda Lambert concert, or a Carrie Underwood concert, then you've been to a drag show," she said, comparing makeup, costumes, wigs and performances.

As drag shows in the US are increasingly targeted, the community fears violence (5)

Mathers said the conversations were difficult, but the final decision was, "we are not going to be locked up because of hate."

Additional precautions would be required. Police closed off part of the street to set up designated protest areas. Private security was hired, with guards posted at the door to ensure no one broke in. It took longer than expected to get the more than 300 ticket holders into the auditorium, but when the show began Saturday night, Mathers said, it was magical.

"All I saw was a sea of ​​beautiful happy faces," she said.

(Video) Group Of Men Disrupt Drag Queen Story Hour At California Library

Everything was going smoothly, until suddenly there was a power cut.

'Forever grateful'

At first, Dix thought it was part of a regular lighting cue, since the dance number was about to start. But the organizers quickly realized that the power was out, and not just in the city center - the entire district was without service.

What happened next brought Dix to tears as she described it. She asked everyone in the audience to turn on the flashlights on their phones and join her in singing BeyonceHalo.

"To be able to feel the energy coming from those lights and to feel the energy coming from the people ... I will be forever grateful for the rest of my life."

With no power, Dix decided to cut short the rest of the show. She encouraged the crowd to leave in groups so they could safely return to their vehicles.

As drag shows in the US are increasingly targeted, the community fears violence (6)

The outage sparked a targeted attack on the power grid that supplies Moore County. Police do not yet have a motive or information about the suspect. What they do know are two separate substationsthey were sprayed with gunfire, causing critical damage to heavy equipment that has not yet been fully repaired.

In the first hours after the blackout, a well-known right-wing agitatorclaimed to have informationabout what happened. Emily Rainey, a former Army psychological operations officer who resigned while under investigation for her connection to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, made vague social media posts suggesting the outage was related to the drag show.

Police spoke to Rainey about the posts, and at a press conference on Sunday they said her claims were false.

Mathers said she hopes the attack on the power system is unrelated to the drag show.

"I don't want to speculate that somebody hates us so much that this is the way they would go about preventing a performance... I mean how can people hate individuals so much that you would do something like this?"

(Video) Why far-right groups are increasingly targeting the LGBTQ community

Dix said she wasn't surprised by the backlash about the drag show itself. Threats and hate are part of her life, she said, not only as a member of the queer community, but also as a person of color existing in the US in 2022.

"The fight will never be over. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, but it's a long tunnel with very little light."

Support is available to anyone affected by these reports. You can speak to a mental health professional viaWellness together Canadacall 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS at686868 for youth or 741741 for adults. It's free and confidential.


What is the point of drag shows? ›

People do drag for reasons ranging from self-expression to mainstream performance. Drag shows frequently include lip-syncing, live singing, and dancing. They typically occur at LGBT pride parades, drag pageants, cabarets, carnivals, and nightclubs.

What do drag queens do? ›

drag queen, a man who dresses in women's clothes and performs before an audience. Drag shows (typically staged in nightclubs and Gay Pride festivals) are largely a subcultural phenomenon.

Why is drag important to performance? ›

With bold costumes, makeup, and characters, drag taps into our human desire for fun, play, and creativity. At its core, drag is a creative act—a powerful and personal form of self-expression. Many performers also credit it with giving them a voice. Others use it to explore sexual and gender identity and expression.

What are female drag queens called? ›

A female queen, diva queen, or hyper queen is a drag queen who identifies as a woman. These performers are generally indistinguishable from the more common male drag queens in artistic style and techniques.

Why is drag important to society? ›

From their historical origins to their impact on contemporary culture, drag queens have played a significant role in challenging societal norms, promoting inclusivity, and fostering a sense of belonging.

What is the goal of drag racing? ›

The riders in the sport have the only aim to cover the racing track as fast as possible to reach first at the finishing line. All the participants are required to line up in the parallel lanes, present at the starting line with the aid of an electronic device known as the "Christmas Tree", present in between the lane.

What does drag stand for? ›

The term originated as British theater slang in the 19th century and was used to describe women's clothing worn by men. Today, many prominent drag artists are still people who identify as men and present themselves in exaggeratedly feminine ways as part of their performance, and are known as drag queens.

Is a drag king a female? ›

Drag kings are mostly female performance artists who dress in masculine drag and personify male gender stereotypes as part of an individual or group routine. A typical drag show may incorporate dancing, acting, stand-up comedy and singing, either live or lip-synching to pre-recorded tracks.

Do you get paid to be a drag queen? ›

New drag queens can earn around $50 per event they go and receive additional money through tips. Once you are able to establish your name in the industry, you can earn up to $800 or more per night, especially if you are performing in top theaters and clubs.

What are the four main factors that affect drag? ›

The factors affecting Drag Force are Shape and size of the object, velocity and direction of flow, and Mass, viscosity, and compressibility of air.

What is the most important factor that affects drag? ›

Drag is associated with the movement of the aircraft through the air, so drag will then depend on the velocity of the air. Like lift, drag actually varies with the square of the velocity between the object and the air. How the object is inclined to the flow will also affect the amount of drag generated.

Is drag always bad Why or why not? ›

Like any other object that moves through the air, airplanes also experience drag. This is not always beneficial, however, since we want airplanes to move forward very quickly and drag slows planes down. Overcoming drag has always been a primary design challenge for aerospace engineers.

What is a male drag king called? ›

This is a list of drag kings, sometimes known as male impersonators, drag performers, or drag artists. A drag king is a person, who dresses in masculine clothes and hides their regular features (through such things as breast binding) for special occasions, often to perform, entertain, or engage in social activism.

Can a drag queen be a girl? ›

'” In order to talk about female drag queens, though, there is a linguistic minefield to navigate. For a while, female drag queens were known as “faux queens” or “bio [biological] queens”. Some find the “faux” offensive because it implies a falseness to the performance, as if their drag could not possibly be real drag.

Can a man be a drag king? ›

All is a drag king; that is, usually a cisgender woman, transgender man or non-binary person performing in male or masculine drag on stage. This can include singing, lip-syncing and dancing.

Why does the Drag crisis happen? ›

At Re ∼ 2 × 105, the boundary layer on the cylinder surface undergoes a transition from laminar to turbulent. This transition leads to a delay of the separation of flow from the cylinder surface causing a substantial reduction in the drag force that the cylinder experiences. This is often referred to as Drag crisis.

What are examples of drag in everyday life? ›

Another interesting force in everyday life is the force of drag on an object when it is moving in a fluid (either a gas or a liquid). You feel the drag force when you move your hand through water. You might also feel it if you move your hand during a strong wind. The faster you move your hand, the harder it is to move.

What are some examples of drag? ›

Examples of drag include the component of the net aerodynamic or hydrodynamic force acting opposite to the direction of movement of a solid object such as cars (automobile drag coefficient), aircraft and boat hulls; or acting in the same geographical direction of motion as the solid, as for sails attached to a down ...

Do drag racers get paid? ›

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $78,000 and as low as $17,000, the majority of Drag Racing salaries currently range between $31,500 (25th percentile) to $66,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $78,000 annually across the United States.

What does red light mean in drag racing? ›

Red Lights

The red light will flash in a fouled-out driver's lane when the car leaves the starting line too early or in some cases is staged too deep in the beams. A perfect reaction time is . 000 seconds. The system records each driver's elapsed time and speed for each run.

Why is drag racing called drag? ›

drag racing, form of motor racing that originated in the United States and in which two contestants race from a standing start side by side on a drag strip—a flat, straight course, most commonly 1/4 mile (0.4 km) long.

What is it called when a woman dresses like a man? ›

A girl who dresses or acts in a stereotypically boyish way is often called a tomboy. Some famous literary tomboys include Scout from "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Jo from "Little Women."

What does drag a girl mean? ›

The term "drag" refers to the performance of exaggerated femininity, masculinity, or other forms of gender expression, usually for entertainment purposes. Drag usually involves cross-dressing.

What is drag in American slang? ›

This definition probably originated in the theatre of the late 1800s, where male performers wore petticoats to perform as women. Their petticoats would drag on the floor, and so they referred to dressing up as women as “putting on their drags.” By the 1920s, the term “drag” was being used by gay people.

Do drag kings wear binders? ›

Methods employed by some Drag Kings can include binding breasts with binders, bandages or tight fitting sports bras, while some Drag Kings have also made an art of creating the illusion of facial hair, drawing it on with eyeliner and also applying dark eyeshadow for the unshaven look.

Do drag kings wear makeup? ›

Makeup could also be used to darker or thicken the eyebrows. But the transformation doesn't just stop at makeup. Drag is a full-body performance, and drag kings make no exception to that. Some of them may wear a binder or binding tape to make their chest appear smaller.

How many girls are in drag race? ›

196 contestants have appeared on the original American series over fifteen seasons; 75 past contestants have returned to compete on All Stars; and 273 contestants have appeared across the international editions of the show.

Do you bring cash to a drag show? ›

It is customary to tip drag performers with $1 bills if you enjoy the show. Bartenders usually don't mind providing you with change (especially if you're ordering a drink) but it's easier to show up with your singles. Also, remember to hand the money to the performer instead of throwing it at them.

Who is the highest paid drag queen? ›

RuPaul has been able to amass an estimated $60 million according to celebrity net worth websites, the fashion icon, tv personality, and the most famous drag queen in the world has a big fortune.

What 3 things affect drag? ›

Factors Affecting Drag
  • The speed of the object.
  • The object's shape and texture.
  • The density of the fluid.

What are the 2 main types of drag? ›

Drag is the force that resists movement of an aircraft through the air. There are two basic types: parasite drag and induced drag.

What are three things that drag depends on? ›

The frictional force (or drag) on an object in a fluid depends on its speed with respect to the fluid. It also depends on the shape and size of the object and the nature of the fluid.

What are common drag factors? ›

The two main factors that impact drag are the frontal area of the vehicle and the drag coefficient. The drag coefficient is a unit-less value that denotes how much an object resists movement through a fluid such as water or air.

What is drag influenced by? ›

Drag is influenced by other factors including shape, texture, viscosity (which results in viscous drag or skin friction ), compressibility, lift (which causes induced drag ), boundary layer separation, and so on.

Why is it important to reduce drag? ›

Minimizing drag can save huge amounts of fuel

Thus, the more drag your ride produces, the more fuel it will need to use in order to overcome this force.

How does drag slow you down? ›

A force created by surface roughness. Form drag: A force affected by the shape of the body. Air flowing past an object breaks away from the surface to form little swirling pockets of air called eddies. These take energy from the object and slow it down.

What energy is lost due to drag? ›

The drag force pushes in the opposite direction of the object motion, so it must do negative work on the object, meaning that it transfers kinetic energy out of the object. Conversely, the object does positive work on the fluid molecules, which increases their kinetic energy.

Are there any straight guys on drag race? ›

Maddy Morphosis is the stage name of Daniel Truitt, a drag performer most known for competing on season 14 of RuPaul's Drag Race. He is the show's first openly heterosexual male contestant.

Is drag just for men? ›

Anyone can do drag. In fact, drag kings (women who personify men) have been around just as long as drag queens (men who perform as women). Drag is different from cross-dressing, which can be a personal and private act.

Is there another word for drag queen? ›

On this page you'll find 4 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to drag queen, such as: transvestite, cross-dresser, closet queen, and female impersonator.

Can you be straight and still be a drag queen? ›

While I am straight, I don't consider myself a straight drag queen. I'm just a drag queen who happens to be straight,” she said. “My sexuality doesn't define the drag that I do, it doesn't impact that. It's just a facet of who I am outside of drag.”

What is the difference between a drag queen and a transvestite? ›

This describes a person who wears the clothes usually associated with the "opposite "sex. This is seen as a form of gender expression. The word "transvestite" is not used much these days. And the expression "drag queen" is different, meaning a man who dresses "as a woman" for purposes of entertainment.

What's the opposite of drag queen? ›

Both drag queens and cross-dressers have experienced a history of persecution, as has the drag queen's antonym (the drag king), which refers to a woman in man's clothing, or a male impersonator.

How do I get started in drag? ›

Start by going out of drag, then maybe in drag when you feel more confident. Support the queens, get to know them, introduce yourself, and express your interest in performing. Be eager and excited and supportive—while being respectful—and let them get to know you.”

What is the meaning behind drag? ›

The term originated as British theater slang in the 19th century and was used to describe women's clothing worn by men. Today, many prominent drag artists are still people who identify as men and present themselves in exaggeratedly feminine ways as part of their performance, and are known as drag queens.

Do straight couples go to drag shows? ›

Yes, drag queens first appeared in the male gay sub-culture (and one could write a book as to why), but it has never been exclusive. Simply put, one does not have to be gay to enjoy doing drag.

Is it OK to wear drag to a drag show? ›

All that to say: there's nothing you have to wear, and there's not much that's off-limits, either. Wear what you want, and wear what you want other people to see. That's the spirit of drag. Tailor your look to the type of drag show you're going to.

Why is a street called a drag? ›

Busy streets across the country were often referred to as “main drags” because of horses pulling or “dragging” carts and buggies behind them.

Do they drink alcohol on Drag Race? ›

RuPaul's Drag Race Season 15 queens Robin Fierce, Aura Mayari, and Marcia Marcia Marcia can attest to production bringing back alcohol during Untucked. The spinoff series previously swapped out booze for Bubly carbonated drinks, but it wouldn't last for too long.

How much do you tip a drag queen? ›


Whether it's $5 or $20, a little tip goes a long way, plus you'll probably get to engage in a quirky interaction with the performer. There are a few rules to be aware of when tipping, which include, but are not limited to: Place the money in your hand and extend your arm toward the Queen.

What should a straight girl wear to a drag show? ›

Drag shows are all about freedom of expression, so wear whatever makes you feel confident and fabulous. Some people opt for sequins and glitter, while others prefer a more understated look. Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that you feel comfortable in and that allows you to move around freely.

Are phones allowed in drag race? ›

While "Drag Race" is being filmed in Los Angeles, the contestants are secluded, queens in season two of "All Stars" revealed in 2016. They aren't allowed to have phones, they're kept in separate hotel rooms, and sometimes production will even put tape on their doors to know if a queen has left her room.

What do you wear to a drag strip? ›

Jeans, a T-shirt, shoes and socks are the minimum clothing items that you should wear. Even in slower stock cars, shorts and bare feet are prohibited. Seat belts with a shoulder harness are obviously also required.

Can a woman be a drag king? ›

Cash a flamboyant twist. “A drag king is anyone who has the intention to perform some version of masculinity,” Valone explains. “That can be any gender.

Why do drag queens say mama? ›

"Mama" is usually used as a term of endearment and respect to an older, more respected queen or person. When a queen first embarks on the world of drag, she needs someone to turn to for guidance, support, and of course, makeup tips.

How do you get respectful at a drag show? ›

  1. Performance Space. DON'T walk where someone is performing. The performance space (stage) is usually well-defined. ...
  2. Tip theM!!! If you're standing or sitting front-row at a drag show, you should be prepared to tip. ...
  3. Hands off! Do not initiate physical contact with a performer.


1. 'There is so much fear': BenDeLaCreme condemns GOP's anti-LGBTQ laws
2. LGBTQ community works to bring acceptance and joy amid increasing threats
(PBS NewsHour)
3. Protesters against a Texas drag brunch met by armed LGBTQ supporters | USA TODAY
4. 'Mommy, Mommy, I Don't Want to Be a Boy!' Little Girl's Reaction to Radical Sex Ed Program Says It A
(CBN News)
5. Drag queens refuse to ‘hide’ amid anti-LGBTQ hate and threats
(ABC News)
6. ‘You’ve Got A Voice And You Gotta Be Heard’: Drag Queens Traverse Middle America In ‘WE’RE HERE’


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