Metro Weekly

Tulsa Doughnut Shop Firebombed After Hosting Drag-Themed Art Installation

Latest act of vandalism marks second time Tulsa's The Donut Hole has been attacked after hosting drag queen event.

The vandal who attacked the Donut Hole in Tulsa, Oklahoma – Photo: Facebook.

A doughnut shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma was vandalized for the second time this month after a masked person broke its windows and threw a Molotov cocktail through the shattered glass around 2 a.m. on Oct. 31. 

Video from a security camera shows the person, wearing what appears to be a medical mask, a red hat, a black hoodie with the hood pulled up partially covering the hat, and jeans, taking a bat and trying — at first unsuccessfully, then successfully — to break the windows of the shop, The Donut Hole, in Tulsa’s Brookside district, with a baseball bat. As the glass finally shatters, the figure is seen lighting the Molotov cocktail and tossing it through the holes in the windows. 

Video footage shows the culprit running away after throwing the explosive. According to Tulsa CW affiliate KOTV, the person also allegedly put “a letter with anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on the door of a neighboring business.” If caught, the suspect could face charges of arson and endangering human lives, according to Tulsa Fire Department officials. 

While the owners of The Donut Hole says the damage was minimal, the Oct. 31 incident occurs just over two weeks after the store’s windows were shattered on Oct. 15. That first attack coincided with an art installation held at the shop by The Queens Dirty Dozens, which is run by drag queens. More than 500 people attended the event, during which drag queens passed out doughnut sculptures — going for $50 a piece — with bright coloring or phrases written on them, reports the Kansas City Star.

The next day, the owners of The Donut Hole found their shop had been broken into, with their windows shattered, and the register and other electronic equipment stolen, according to a GoFundMe set up by an individual on behalf of the shop’s owners.

Following that incident, the shop received a flood of donations, well surpassing its goal of $2,500 in less than an hour, according to Tulsa World. Any money that exceeded the cost of repairs was donated to the Tulsa Equality Center, the owners wrote in a Facebook post. 

Members of the community rallied behind the shop, leaving positive messages and murals in chalk on the sidewalk outside the store. A youth soccer team called Rainbow Donuts painted a doughnut design over one of the boarded-up windows, according to a post on the business’s Facebook page.

The Queens Dirty Dozens had planned to hold a second event at the shop, but that has since been canceled following the Oct. 31 incident. Tulsa firefighters reportedly have a “person of interest” in that particular incident, according to Tulsa World. It still remains unclear whether the first and second acts of vandalism are linked.

After the second act of vandalism, the store reopened its original GoFundMe page to help raise money for the damages. As of Nov. 7, the page has raised over $28,000. 

In response to the second act of vandalism at The Donut Hole, the Brookside Business Association, which represents businesses in the Brookside district, said in a statement that it was “heartbroken” by the vandalism.

“No matter in what ways we may disagree with others, violence will never be the right response,” the statement said. “We, as a business association representing Brookside, unconditionally and unequivocally, condemn these destructive actions and behaviors.”

While the exact motive of the vandal or vandals is unclear, the attack against the doughnut shop — and the timing in relation to the drag art exhibit — mirrors controversies in other states and cities in which social conservatives have lashed out at drag queen-related events, especially those in public places where children might be exposed to drag performers.

Critics of such events say that exposing children to drag is a form of “grooming” or “indoctrination” that will lead to children identifying as LGBTQ or flouting gender norms. But drag performers say that most perform differently in public spaces versus how they perform in bars or nightclubs where the clientele are all over 21. 

The backlash against drag coincides with a similar societal backlash — fueled by right-leaning politicians — against demonstrations of gender-nonconformity and transgender identity, leading some to propose policies that restrict the ability of transgender athletes to participate in sports, prohibit accommodations for school-age transgender children, and restrict children from receiving gender-affirming care.

“There is a bigger backlash against drag queens, there is a bigger backlash against the LGBTQ+ community and people of color, no matter what group you are in,” Bella Naughty, a drag queen based in Washington, D.C., told The Washington Post back in August when the media began reporting on the attacks on drag-related events.

Sarah Swain and Brian Hunter, the co-owners of The Donut Hole, told The Washington Post they are saddened to have their business attacked, even if the motives behind the vandalism aren’t clear at this time. 

“We just want to make doughnuts,” Hunter said. “We’re just a small business. Like we’re just trying to make doughnuts and have fun. We don’t understand.”

“It’s super heartbreaking because this is like a new thing for us that we’re experiencing,” Swain added. “But for the [drag] queens, this is just their life and nothing really new to them. And it’s so sad because they’re feeling some guilt after what happened to us, and it’s in no way their fault.”


Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!