Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake recently insinuated that drag queens and queer people are a threat to children. But a local drag queen reminded the right-wing politicians that she once brought her own kid to a drag performance.
Last Saturday, Lake wrote via Twitter and Instagram, “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens. They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow. They seek to disarm Americans and militarize our Enemies. Let’s bring back the basics: God, Guns & Glory.”
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In response, Richard Stevens — an entertainer who performs as drag queen Barbra Seville — said that Lake has repeatedly attended his performances. Stevens also said he performed at a party that Lake attended with her own children.
In social media posts, Stevens called Lake “a complete hypocrite,” adding that the two were friends before Lake became a right-wing politician. The drag performer also shared numerous images that showed friendly communications between them.
“She’s friends with drag queens,” Stevens told The Arizona Republic. “She’s had her kid in front of a drag queen. I’ve done drag in her home for her friends and family. She’s not threatened by them. She would come to shows constantly. To make me be the bogeyman for political gain, it was just too much.”
“[Lake has] come to my parties and has been asked to leave because door people thought she was too intoxicated to remain on premises,” Stevens also wrote on social media.
Stevens posted an Instagram screenshot from Lake’s personal account showing Lake hanging out with Stevens in full drag. Lake’s caption said, “Half of what I learned about makeup I learned from watching friends like Barbra Seville.”
— Brahm Resnik (@brahmresnik) June 18, 2022
In response to Stevens’ posts, Lake’s campaign wrote, “The event in question was a party at someone else’s house, and the performer was there as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. It wasn’t a drag show, and the issue we’re talking about isn’t adults attending drag shows, either. The issue is activists sexualizing young children, and that’s got to stop.”
Lake apparently doesn’t realize (or doesn’t want to admit) that when a man dresses up as a female celebrity that totally counts as a drag show. Lake is just one of numerous Republicans who have begun accusing drag queens and LGBTQ people of “sexualizing” and “grooming” children.
Stevens said of the rhetoric, “Everyone knows what’s going on. People needed something else to talk about because the conversation was getting too real about gun control and children being killed in schools, so people want to say ‘Let’s protect kids from drag queens’ instead of protecting kids from gun violence.”
Tudor Dixon, a Republican candidate for Michigan governor, said he would support a bill handing down “severe criminal penalties for adults who involve children in drag shows.”
In early June, Texas state Rep. Bryan Slaton (R) announced that he intends to file a bill during the state legislature’s upcoming session that would ban drag shows in the presence of minors. He has claimed that “drag shows subject underage kids to inappropriate sexual content by adults.”
A few days later, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) implied he is open to using Florida’s child protective service laws to terminate the parental rights of adults who take their kids to see drag shows.
“When will the sexualization of children stop?” he asked in a tweet. His press secretary, Christina Pushaw, has said that any person who supports acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ people in schools supports pedophilic child rape.
While some drag performances have adult humor in them, very few contain explicit sexual content. Most drag events attended by children feature lip-sync performances, sing-alongs, and storytelling by performers in colorful costumes and makeup. The performers teach kids about self-acceptance and caring for others who may look or love differently than they do.
Right-wingers have issued terroristic bomb and death threats against local libraries for holding these events. Such protesters sometimes infiltrate the venues, frightening children and their families as well as recording and threatening public exposure of any adults who participate in them.