In perhaps one of the most tone-deaf attempts at tongue-in-cheek humor, participants in New York City’s annual Drag March chanted, “We’re here, we’re queer, we’re coming for your children. We’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going shopping,” as they marched through the city’s streets last Friday.
The event, a mile-long trek from Tompkins Square Park in Alphabet City to the Stonewall Inn in the West Village, featured hundreds of drag queens and LGBTQ activists, holding provocative signs or banners and leading each other in chants.
The event paid homage to the Stonewall Uprising, widely celebrated as the seminal moment in the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement in the United States.
But at a time when LGBTQ-themed events are under scrutiny — due partly to an emboldened right-wing backlash against LGBTQ visibility and public expressions of gender nonconformity — this particular chant may not have been the best choice of words.
Video of the march posted to Twitter on June 23 by Timcast News, an organization launched by conservative podcaster Tim Pool, shows a group of people, all wearing an array of colorful outfits and wigs, marching and waving a black flag with a rainbow-striped heart with the words “Drag Is Not A Crime.”
By the evening of June 26, just three days after being posted, the video had amassed over 4.8 million views on Twitter.
Social conservatives — who have largely always viewed LGBTQ people skeptically — latched onto the first part of the chant as alleged “proof” of the LGBTQ community’s ill intent to indoctrinate children into being LGBTQ or embracing gender nonconformity.
“This movement grooms minors to have mastectomies and castration and fuels a multi-billion dollar medical child abuse industry,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), infamous for making homophobic remarks. “Pass the Protect Children’s Innocence Act. Let kids be kids.”
The bill mentioned by Greene, which she sponsored, would make it a felony to inform minors about gender-affirming care or make it easier for them to access such treatments.
While it is unclear what the Drag March has to do with gender-affirming care, Greene, like other conservative pundits, appears to have assumed that exposure to drag will inevitably lead youth to experience gender dysphoria and wish to pursue gender transitions.
Jenna Ellis, a conservative lawyer who uses Twitter to attack the LGBTQ community, implicitly referenced decades-old stereotypes of LGBTQ people as pedophiles or groomers who pose a threat to children’s safety.
“Remember that thing they said they totally are not doing?” Ellis tweeted.
“This is what EVIL looks like…,” tweeted conservative podcaster Graham Allen.
“They are not even hiding their intentions anymore they are saying it out loud,” tweeted Oli London, an Internet personality who is a critic of the transgender movement, and who serves as spokesperson for the Fairness First PAC launched by Caitlyn Jenner, which opposes allowing athletes to compete on sports teams matching their gender identity.
Responses outside the conservative sphere have been mixed. One Twitter user noted that “The intention [of the Drag March] is to provoke.”
“They are mocking the f*****g weirdos who think they are coming for their children’” another user tweeted, according to Newsweek. “Evil predators who are coming for your children don’t chant about it in public.”
But others, even within the LGBTQ community, criticized the marchers, arguing that the chant provides conservatives with fodder for their anti-LGBTQ attacks and reinforces slanderous and antiquated ideas about the LGBTQ community.
“Sadly – this will continue to determinate (sic) the view of the gay community who fought so hard to be accepted. This is not accepted,” the New York Post quoted another Twitter user saying.
During the month of June, when many cities throughout the country typically celebrate Pride festivities, organizers of Pride events have issued calls to action pushing back against a slew of bills seeking to restrict LGBTQ rights or freedoms introduced in various state legislatures this year.
“We are under threat. Prides are under threat,” event organizers from more than 50 Pride organizations in various cities, including New York, San Francisco, and San Diego, said in a joint statement.
“The diverse dangers we are facing as an LGBTQ community and Pride organizers, while differing in nature and intensity, share a common trait: they seek to undermine our love, our identity, our freedom, our safety, and our lives,” the coalition said in a statement.
“It’s time we reaffirm the importance of Pride in our current socio-political climate, and call all our allies to action.”
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