You know what the scariest thing about drag queen story hour is? The part where hooded men wearing body armor show up with assault rifles. That’s what happened at a holiday themed storytelling event featuring drag queens on Dec. 3 when the Proud Boys showed up to protest
Anti-queer protest has become the Proud Boys’ new thing, giving them something to focus on besides worshipping disgraced former President Donald Trump and reliving their Jan. 6 Capitol riot by watching the footage they posted on social media of themselves engaging in this act of terrorism. After all, they’re the Proud Boys, not the Smart Boys.
According to Newsweek, “The far-right extremist group has appeared at a host of LGBTQ events across various states, threatening violence outside a drag brunch in Texas, protesting a Pride event at a public library in North Carolina and disrupting a drag show in California.”
And we can add Columbus, Ohio to their nationwide tour when the private Red Oak Community School was scheduled to hold a holiday fundraiser. That the Proud Boys would show up is not a surprise, as they announced it on Facebook as early as Nov. 15.
“The Columbus Proud Boys would like to announce that we will be attending the Holi-drag Storytime…on December 3rd!” they posted. “We look forward to meeting all of the attendees and welcome Americans from all over to join us. It’s gonna be wild! Stand by for details…”
Note their hat tip to Trump with their language. As you’ll remember, Trump urged people to join him in D.C. on Jan. 6 with the promise that it would “be wild” and urged the Proud Boys to “stand by” during a debate with Biden when Trump was asked if he would disavow such groups.
The good news? No one was shot at the Holi-Drag event. The bad news? The Proud Boys succeeded in getting the event canceled. Because people were afraid of violence. Because the Proud Boys were there. With guns. Threatening violence.
That, my friends, is terrorism. Which is, of course, the point. They want you to be so scared that you don’t live your life. And the fear is real. The Club Q shooting is fresh in everyone’s minds right now. This isn’t hypothetical violence. This isn’t LGBTQ+ people acting hysterical.
“If you look at the history of the way in which organized violence works, it can often start with protests, can often start with fights or fistfights, but very quickly then can become armed events,” said TransLash Media CEO Imara Jones, in a Newsweek article. “What we are seeing overall right now is the transition and the legitimization of increasing violence and targeting of trans people by these groups.”
Equality Ohio urged people to stay away from the area, and the organizers canceled the event. Some believed the police would not protect them.
And it seems those instincts were right. Columbus Police Sergeant Steven Dyer was seen high-fiving a Proud Boy at the event. When confronted, he claimed the brief camaraderie happened after he was complimented on his mustache and that he did not support any particular side.
This made some people very upset, but, I mean, who among us hasn’t high-fived an armed terrorist after they’ve said something complimentary about our facial hair?
Law enforcement is slow to catch up when it comes to who the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are in so-called culture wars. Police don’t exactly have a great history regarding the LGBTQ+ community, and there are no doubt more Proud Boys in their ranks than drag queens.
But the Proud Boys are listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They hate immigrants, Muslims, transgender people, women and Jews. While this is probably not an exhaustive list, the group claims they aren’t racist, but they do protest Black Lives Matter marches, so… yeah, they’re racist.
Imagine thinking that a drag queen is more dangerous to have around children than a group of men who are having some big feelings about their notion of masculinity being threatened while holding guns. Drag queens slay; guns slay. One is figurative and fun; one is very literal and deadly. The difference could not be more extreme.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.