PBS: ‘Far Right’ GOPers Are Anti-Drag Because ‘Brainwashed’

Political News

On Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour, the show devoted a segment to an LGBT activist who has been defending drag shows against efforts by conservatives to restrict their ability to involve children.

PBS’s Amna Nawaz made sure to label critics of drag shows as “far-right” as she set up the interview:

States proposed a record number of anti-LGBTQ legislation this year with more already planned for 2023. A few of those bills have specifically targeted drag events, most recently in Texas where a second bill introduced in the state legislature aims to ban minors from attending drag shows, and restrict drag artists and transgender people from public performances.

She added:

But despite conservatives and far right attempts to shut down drag, those within the LGBT community are keeping it alive and visible. Eureka O’Hara is a drag star doing just that. A former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race and co-host of the HBO series, We’re Here.

Later in the segment, after Eureka O’Hara got to recall some of her activities, Nawaz tied Republicans to the “far-right” again as she followed up:

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There are a number of Republicans — self-described conservatives — who argue that drag is something to be feared. We’ve heard this before from some far right voices is that they say it indoctrinates and sexualizes children. What do you say to people for whom that message resonates?

O’Hara called conservative critics “brainwashed” in her response as she asserted that “most” drag queens are not interested in working with children.

This episode of the PBS NewsHour was funded by Consumer Cellular as well as viewers like you.

Transcript follows:

PBS NewsHour
December 20, 2022
7:31 p.m. Eastern

JUDY WOODRUFF: This has been a year of increasing anti-LGBT sentiment in the United States. Threats and attacks on drag events and queer spaces, including the deadly attack in Colorado Springs last month. All of this while new data from the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that aims to prevent LGBT suicide, found more than 50 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth in the U.S. seriously considered suicide in this year. Amna Nawaz has our look at how many in the queer community are working to bring acceptance and joy despite the pain.

AMNA NAWAZ: States proposed a record number of anti-LGBTQ legislation this year with more already planned for 2023. A few of those bills have specifically targeted drag events, most recently in Texas where a second bill introduced in the state legislature aims to ban minors from attending drag shows, and restrict drag artists and transgender people from public performances.

But despite conservatives and far right attempts to shut down drag, those within the LGBT community are keeping it alive and visible. Eureka O’Hara is a drag star doing just that. A former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race and co-host of the HBO series, We’re Here.

(…)

EUREKA O’HARA, LGBT ACTIVIST: You know, it’s kind of that rebellious act, is what drag is all about. It’s about, you know, the standing up and representing a part of yourself that you were always told to hide.

AMNA NAWAZ: There are a number of Republicans — self-described conservatives — who argue that drag is something to be feared. We’ve heard this before from some far right voices is that they say it indoctrinates and sexualizes children. What do you say to people for whom that message resonates?

O’HARA: Well, I think that people automatically are being brainwashed with fear tactics. And that’s often what happens when it comes to people who are trying to get people on their side when they have an opposing opinion from the norm, right? To say that you should fear drag, it makes no sense. I mean, most drag queens don’t necessarily want to work or perform for children. Not all drag queens want to do that. There are some situations where we do drag story hour or we allow all ages to come to a drag brunch during a daytime event, but it’s all within legal standing.

Of course, again, it’s a parental right whether or not they allow that child to attend. And if you have a queer child that doesn’t get exposed to different and LGBT parts of their community, I feel like it’s a parent’s opportunity to be around people that are more like them, to learn from that environment. It’s not something that we’re petitioning or going on missions for to like convince children the differences in queer existence and heteronormative existence. That’s not our agenda.

NAWAZ: Eureka, before I let you go, I have to ask you, you are — you yourself are from a small town in Tennessee, which is not unlike many of the towns that you go into now on this show on HBO. What has drag meant for you? What place does it hold in your life?

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