Children are not tools for fearmongering   – The Argonaut

Boise’s Pride drew negative attention that year as their Drag Kids event drew increasing controversy and sponsors withdrew. The Drag Kids event would have consisted of children participating and putting on their own show.

Idahoans were outraged by the event and viewed it as sexualizing children. Representative Dorthy Moon and the Idaho GOP urged their constituents to get sponsors to withdraw their support.

While those opposed to the event claim that drag sexualizes children – I just can’t see it. Drag can have sexual or adult themes, but often it isn’t. It can be as simple as dressing up in flashy clothes, putting on makeup and performing to songs in front of an audience.

People will demonize child drag as sexual, while the actual children’s pageants, where younger children are scrutinized by adults, continue to fly under the radar.

Not a new tactic for those seeking controversy, child participation has been used before to stoke public emotion. What should be an agenda is twisted to be presented as a concern for children.

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In the past, stories of gay men trying to lure children into public toilets made the rounds, fueling unfounded fears in people’s minds.

Despite the reality of the situation, rumors continue to swirl. A fake poster advertising “adult dancers” and “tips for kids” was linked to Boise’s Pride and circulated online.

The fake drag poster

After receiving negative attention, the event was eventually canceled over concerns for the safety of attendees.

However, that didn’t stop sponsors from pulling out. The Department of Health and Welfare, Zions Bank and Idaho Power are just a few of the sponsors who have withdrawn, and not necessarily just for PR reasons.

Boise Pride executive director Donald Williamson tweeted that Idaho Power employees faced harassment as opposition to the event grew. Williamson clarified that employees had received threats by phone and email prior to their withdrawal.

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Before this movement against Boise’s Pride, there was a lot of hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community in the past few months.

Back in June, Couer d’Alene’s Pride saw a failed uprising organized by members of the Patriot Front, a white nationalist group. Many of the 31 men, who were from abroad, wore riot gear and were ready to start a conflict.

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Just before Pride month began, a local Boise preacher called for the execution of gay people. Pastor Joe Jones of the Shield of Faith Baptist Church claimed that with the death of “gays” pedophilia would end.

LGBTQ+ people are not only viewed with disgust, but as a threat. Many are questioning norms and breaking with the binary. Many fear the changes this growing community will bring.

The waves around the children’s drag have little to do with concern for the children and more to do with people’s fear of what they don’t know. As a more conservative state, Idaho residents are afraid of the changes they are seeing.

Pride events challenge the gender norms that many of us are comfortable with and rely on to divide society. As the queer community progresses, people are lashing out. But the reality is they can’t stop it.

Maybe an event has been cancelled, sponsors have pulled out, but seeing the community is a step forward in itself. My question to the opposition is: What are you afraid of?

Haadiya Tariq can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @haadiyatariq

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