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LGBTQ+ students get bomb threat after “Libs of TikTok” targeted them with doctored drag video

A bomb
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An LGBTQ+ student group in South Dakota received a bomb threat after they hosted a drag show on campus.

“I didn’t find out from [the University Police Department],” Lindsay Tull told The Daily Beast. She’s a member of the Gender and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) at South Dakota State University (SDSU) that was threatened with a bomb. “I found out from the Discord that we have for our board members.”

“I was freaking out because I didn’t know how serious it was and if we were in danger. I was afraid for my friends and if something was going to happen to them.”

The show occurred on November 16 and was advertised as “kid-friendly,” drawing the ire of right-wing activists. The performers said that they made sure that the show was appropriate for all ages – they even bleeped out words from the pop songs they lip synced to – but that didn’t stop anti-LGBTQ+ activist Chaya Raichik from doctoring a video to make the event seem like performers were naked in front of children.

Raichik – who goes by “Libs of TikTok” online – posted video from last year’s event to Twitter on November 18. She used video of a drag queen last year dressed in a nude illusion – layers of clothing designed to look like a naked person – even though last year’s show wasn’t advertised as family-friendly. The drag queen she used in her video didn’t even perform at this year’s show.

“What they did was they spliced together some content from this year with last year’s drag show, which was not advertised in any way as family-friendly,” said another GSA member. “They tried to pass it off as it being part of the same show.”

Then she claimed that the video was from this year’s show to anger her anti-LGBTQ+ followers. Raichik is known for calling out targets on social media so that her followers can send death and bomb threats or call them slurs.

A week later, the school said on its website that it received an email that said, “An explosive device or devices were placed on the campus of South Dakota State University.”

“The email also threatened harm to potential survivors of the detonation,” the site said. “At the time of this warning, no devices have been located. The department will continue investigating the threat and pursing [sic] all leads.”

Faculty advisors for the GSA were told by university officials that their group was the target of the threat, but GSA members say that it took university police two weeks to say something to LGBTQ+ students about the threat.

The GSA had already been facing harassment since they announced the drag show in November. Several conservative Christian organizations – including the Concerned Women of America (CWA) and the Family Heritage Alliance (FHA) – drew attention to the drag event. The CWA called it an “outright assault on our children.”

“Children’s innocence is under attack like never before in our country,” the FHA’s website said. “They are constantly being bombarded with sexually explicit material and radical gender ideology, even through so-called ‘family-friendly’ events like an upcoming drag show in South Dakota.”

The controversy attracted the attention of conservative elected officials. State Rep. Scott Odenbach (R) called it “unbelievable and unacceptable.” State Rep. Chris Karr (R) wrote to SDSU asking them “not to allow children to attend this event.” State Rep. John Hansen (D) said, “Use of taxpayer funds or resources for this event is not appropriate.”

The drag show was not funded by the university.

This led to death threats against the performers in the show, and security was increased. One performer said that everyone just “wanted out” by the end of the show.

The GSA said that around 300 people attended the drag event, more than had ever attended in the past.

This isn’t the first time the right has used this tactic – manipulating images of drag shows to make them seem inappropriate for children. Earlier this year, another rightwing blogger posted a blurred picture of a drag queen’s groin to make it seem like she had exposed herself to children. The drag performer later sued.

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