Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is on the rise across the U.S. and in Colorado, and drag shows have become a central target of the right. Conservatives have attacked and vilified drag shows and performers, saying they are part of a left-wing effort to indoctrinate children through grooming.
Colorado saw the effects of this rhetoric in June, during Pride Month, when a drag queen storytime event at the Denver Botanical Gardens was canceled due to angry messages and threats.
This weekend, the hateful attacks culminated in a deadly shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, the night before Transgender Day of Remembrance. Club Q had a drag event scheduled for the following day.
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) has gotten the most attention for her statements, once tweeting “Take your children to CHURCH, not drag bars.”
But there’s more. Here is a sample of several stories from the Colorado Times Recorder in which Colorado conservatives, in Colorado Springs especially, promoted bigoted rhetoric and misinformation about drag shows.
January 28, 2020 – The biggest comic book store in North America, located in northwest Denver, hosted its monthly family-friendly drag show–a colorful event that’s drawn aggressive protests from hate organizations and right-wing religious activists. Some of those protestors showed up wearing riot gear.
May 25, 2022 – CO Springs City Councilor Dave Donelson said the local library should forbid drag queens from using the space for events, along with attacking critical race theory and transgender inclusion.
June 20, 2022 – State Representatives Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs) and Mark Baisley (R-Roxborough Park) vilified local drag shows as “grooming children.” Meanwhile, roughly 50 protestors showed up to a Highlands Ranch Community Center to stand against a drag story hour.
June 22, 2022 – The Log Cabin Republicans of Colorado’s president blasted drag shows as centering “flamboyant” gay people instead of “normal” ones, and said that family-friendly drag shows are part of a “Marxist agenda.”
September 12, 2022 – Bringing together faith leaders, authors, politicians — U.S. Representatives Doug Lamborn and Lauren Boebert, Colorado Rep. Mark Baisley, Arkansas Sen. Jason Rapert — and activists, this year’s Truth and Liberty conference was a showcase of conservative grievances, with reactionary politics and Christian fundamentalism on full display. Speaker Mario Murillo spoke against events involving drag queens, invoking the image of “an obese, bearded man in a dress.”