On a sunny Saturday late afternoon, right-wing groups descended in front of First Christian Church in Katy, Texas, a suburb west of Houston. Groups like the Proud Boys, the Patriot Front, and Protect Texas Kids have exhibited extreme outrage against the church holding a drag queen bingo fundraiser to benefit Transparent Closet, a free clothing boutique for disadvantaged transgender youth. Several counter-protester groups, such as the Screwston Anti-Fascist Committee, were also present. Tensions were high, and plenty of people, both within protesters and counter-protesters, were heavily armed.
Prior to the event, several right-wing parents have shown virulent displeasure toward drag queens.
Grassroots parent groups have vowed to protest against the event, which they believe is harmful to children.
Rebecca Clark, executive director of the Fort Bend County County Citizens Defending Freedom, said parents are outraged the church had planned to feature a “satanist” that had plotted against a school.
“We are done tolerating the exploitation and sexualization of our children in this country,” Clark told The Epoch Times via text.
Sarah Feigleson, a Katy resident and CCDF’s Fort Bend County education leader, wrote in a text that parents need to wake up.
“Drag queens and children don’t mix,” she wrote. “These events are happening in your backyard. Stand up and raise a respectful ruckus.”
Protect Texas Kids, an anti-LGBTQ group founded by self-proclaimed “Christian fascist” Kelly Neidert, formed a part of the protest; the group, which is the brainchild of the leader of the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) at the University of North Texas, desired to “take a stand in protecting kids from the toxic, indoctrinating agenda of the left”. (This, when 66 per cent of crisis calls to Rainbow Youth Project USA came from Texas, per the Los Angeles Blade.)
Protect Texas Kids made a Facebook event to protest against the “’all-ages’ drag bingo event”.
This “church” will be hosting a disturbing kid-friendly drag bingo show, complete with alcoholic drinks and special 18+ ticket options. Our Houston friends are organizing a protest, and we will be joining them. These sexually explicit shows must stop happening in front of children.
Although the “Discussion” section of the Facebook event is small, there were some noteworthy, if not terrifying, comments made on the lone post, such as “A pedo’s dream”, “californian migrants should be branded so we know who's who in this state”, and a fake Communist rule that states: “Corrupt the young, get them away from religion. Get them interested in sex.”
First Christian Church Katy, a Disciples of Christ church, has had a history of acceptance toward LGBTQ+ people, dating back to 1979; the church had actively gave support despite acts of hate speech and vandalism against the church. First Christian Church Reverend Heather Tolleson acknowledges that “not everyone agrees with us”, but she also proudly states, “We have done what we needed to do to take care of and provide a safe environment.” Transparent Closet itself opened in late 2020.
"We have it set up like a boutique where you can find something really nice to try on and keep, like jewelry, makeup and clothes — anything somebody who is sexually exploring or transitioning could need," Tolleson said. "The explicit intent is that teens and young adults have a place to go and explore and get what they need."
In spite of the hostility of right-wing hate groups in the streets and the boiling anger of right-wing parents beforehand, the drag queen bingo fundraiser managed to be sold out.
Across the street, counter-protesters had a different message.
"That is nonsense, because drag in itself is just a costume," said one person supporting the event. "It's no different than someone dressed up like a superhero at a comic convention or someone who puts on a Halloween costume."