Anti-LGBTQ+ commentator Ben Shapiro is outraged that Build-A-Bear Workshop is selling a bear modeled after the world’s most famous drag queen, RuPaul.
“When they say that they’re not coming after the kids that’s a lie. They’re coming after the kids,” Shapiro said in a recent podcast, sarcastically saying that the product makes “perfect sense because you definitely need to teach your kids about boys who dress up as girls.” The toy is a bear in a dress and heels and was made for fans of RuPaul and collectors.
Shapiro then said that the bear “immediately caused outrage online” because his transphobic colleague at The Daily Wire, Matt Walsh, published a tweet claiming that the bear is part of an “agenda to groom your kids” for sexual abuse.
Right-wingers like Walsh mention grooming to vilify LGBTQ+ people and drag performers as dangerous child sexual predators. Such rhetoric has led to death threats against queer people, drag performers, their allies, educators, and gender-affirming healthcare providers.
“Why Build-A-Bear felt the necessity to do this?” Shapiro continued. “Again, this is a product designed for children. It’s beyond me, except that all of our cultural arbiters have decided that all of this is the most important thing that you can possibly do.”
Shapiro claimed that “blowback” to the RuPaul bear led Build-A-Bear Workshop to remove any mention of the product from its website’s front page. The bear is now available in the website’s “Bear Cave” section, which is restricted to shoppers over age 18 and features stuffed animals themed after entertainment properties like The Office, Ted Lasso, and Star Wars.
Granted, this isn’t the first time RuPaul has collaborated with a well-known brand. She recently appeared on the front of a “limited-cheddition” box of Cheez-It snack crackers and Fisher-Price dolls. The anti-LGBTQ+ organization One Million Moms (which only has 104,235 social media followers) said the collectible figurines were “indoctrinating” kids to become queer.
Shapiro, who has previously threatened to shoot a Democratic presidential candidate over his LGBTQ+-inclusive policies, has previously expressed outrage against a gay Oreo commercial, lesbians on the moon, a lesbian coffee cup, a gay couple in a zombie TV show, and a rap song about female arousal. He believes the Supreme Court should overturn marriage equality, that “transgender is a mental disease,” and that teachers shouldn’t acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ people.