Policing Extremism: Drag, Hate Crimes, and the LGBTQA+

Over the past two years, there has been a sharp increase in discrimination and hate crimes against members of the LGBTQA+ community specifically drag queens in Texas. The uptick in hate crimes has been fueled by a misconception about drag, drag queens, and their impact on communities. Keep reading to learn more.

The History of the Public vs. Drag Queens

The increase in hatred and harassment against drag queens in Texas is attributed to the misconception that drag queens and the greater LGBTQA+ community at large, are pedophiles who prey on children. The history of this idea is rooted in a fear of the “other” in society and is often inflamed by religious rhetoric.

In some circles, the record of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible is cited as evidence of the connection between gay men and children. This portion of the Bible is often misrepresented to mean that the men from Sodom and Gomorrah were engaging in or attempting to engage in homosexual relations with children in Lot’s house and the city.

Of course, religion is not the root of all hatred and is certainly not used by those who ascribe to religion use it as a weapon against marginalized groups. There are exceptions to the rule and extremists among the ranks of any idealistic movement.

The catalyst for the movement in the 20th century can be narrowed down to a very targeted political campaign by Anita Bryant who spread rhetoric that depicted gay men as a threat to children and were a potent weapon against public safety. Renown psychologist Paul Cameron quickly disproved this idea. However, the damage was done, and alternative researchers began to publish theories about molestation among same-sex parents.

Now, in the 21st century, as more fringe ideals become mainstream with the help of social media the public at large has taken a closer look at queer culture as a whole. This has led to a more mainstream acceptance of anti-LGBTQA+ rhetoric and inflamed extremists.

Drag Queen Story Hour

Drag is a type of gender-bending performance art where performers dress and act to portray an exaggerated version of the opposite gender. Drag performances have been a recorded phenomenon for centuries, but in modern times with the introduction of mainstream media like RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag has entered the public lexicon and has provided a platform to educate people about the art of drag and the queer community.

An organization called Drag Story Hour has also made waves and given younger generations queer icons to look up to. The organization is proud to support drag artists in communities around the United States. Libraries host drag queens through this organization who host reading time with children.

As the organization has grown, it has become the subject of hatred from extremist groups and anti-LGBTQA+ individuals. This has also raised questions about whether drag is sexual and are these story hours Attacks on drag shows and reading hours have become more violent.

Violence in Texas

In November a gunman opened fire at a queer club in Colorado killing five people and injuring 20 others. As a result, drag bars, gay bars, and Drag Queen Story Hour groups in other states including Texas have taken precautions especially since local extremists have made their support for violence against drag queens known.

It is important to note that hostile rhetoric is not new or even limited to the populace. In fact, legislators have also made their feelings known. So, how does all of this impact criminal justice?

Hate Crimes

Hate crimes are defined as criminal acts that are motivated by prejudice or bias against a group or individual based on their membership in a protected class. These prejudices may be against a person’s race, religion, sex or sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or national orientation.

Crimes based on this prejudice may range from harassment to murder in varying degrees. Victims may be the immediate target or a proxy for a group in general. For example, an extremist group or individual may target a drag event as a proxy for their hatred toward the LGBTQA+ community as a whole.


Hate crimes have increased exponentially over the past few years, and the level of violence is horrifying. It is important to remember that at this time, investigating and prosecuting hate crimes is a priority. With an influx of hateful sentiment in all corners of the internet it has become more difficult than ever to determine whether a post or claim is actionable. That is why it is crucial that those reporting hate crimes do so accurately and with evidence. Wrongful charges divert crucial resources away from legitimate cases and harm the target of the claim.

If you believe you have a case, contact Shane Phelps Law.

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