The newest front in America’s culture wars are drag shows. Some conservative activists claim that they are being used to “groom” children into becoming LGBTQ+ by exposing them to the culture at a young age. However, that logic shows a profound misunderstanding of how human sexuality works.
"What we do know is it doesn’t look like there’s much that changes [sexuality] externally," Clinton Anderson, acting chief of psychology in the public interest for the American Psychological Association, told PolitiFact. "The changes that happen seem to happen naturally because of how people develop—not because something is being done to them."
The “grooming” claims also dredge up an old homophobic stereotype that suggests LGBTQ+ people are more likely to be child predators, which, according to multiple studies cited by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is entirely false.
\u201cWe must protect Texas kids from sick adults who want to sexualize them.\n\nNo drag shows.\n\nNo porn in their libraries.\n\nNo gender transition surgeries.\n\nYes to letting kids be kids.\u201d— Bryan Slaton (@Bryan Slaton) 1655132927
Facts be damned, Bryan Slaton, a Texas Republican state lawmaker, said he will propose a bill that would ban people from performing drag shows in the presence of minors. Florida’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis is looking into charging people who bring children to drag shows with “child endangerment.”
Taco Bell isn’t shying away from the controversy surrounding drag performances. It’s been hosting a drag brunch tour across the U.S. since May, which has included stops at its cantinas in Las Vegas, Chicago, Nashville and New York City. Taco Bell Cantinas are upscale versions of the fast food chain that serve alcohol. The company says the shows are a way to celebrate “the wonderful artform of drag and its influence in culture with their chosen families.”
The drag brunches are also a way to spotlight and support the It Gets Better Project to expand “workforce readiness resources for LGBTQIA+ youth around the globe.”
There is one stop left on the tour, June 26 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Maybe DeSantis will stop by for a mimosa and realize that drag queens aren’t that bad after all.
The drag brunches are hosted by the aptly-named Kay Sedia (pronounced “quesadilla”) a self-proclaimed “Tupperware Diva” who stars in a one-woman stage show, the “Taco Chronicles.” Diners at the brunch are served a Bell Box featuring a Grande Toasted Breakfast Burrito, Cinnabon Delights and hash browns. Of course, the festivities wouldn’t be complete without the drag brunch staple, the mimosa.
During the shows the drag performers lip-sync, dance, tell jokes and host a twerking contest featuring the audience. Tips are collected by a group of “Bell Boys,” who wear satin shorts, open shirts and stuff the money into glittery rainbow fanny packs.
“This was so much fun! I’m so glad to be a part of it,” drag performer Alexia Noelle Paris, who appeared at the Nashville show, told the OpenTable blog. “We made herstory. Living in Nashville you learn that most of the people that come downtown are not only tourists, but for the most part have probably not been to a drag show so getting to see everyone’s faces and reactions was great.”
\u201cInside Taco Bell\u2019s Exhilarating Nashville Drag Brunch https://t.co/7HDGAHb3CJ\u201d— Foodaddle (@Foodaddle) 1654830669
Even though some Americans are attempting to push LGBTQ+ people to the sidelines by launching a war on a joyous tradition, Taco Bell didn’t flinch and kept the party going.