- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2019

Two libraries in suburban Columbus, Ohio, canceled LGBTQ-themed youth activities on the eve of Pride Month festivals, including one called “Drag 101,” after criticism from a high-ranking state politician.

Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder last Friday tweeted a letter he had written to the Ohio Library Council, which had scheduled the Pride events earlier this year.

“When I was informed our public libraries were being used to teach teenage boys how to become drag queens, I thought it was a joke,” wrote Mr. Householder, a Republican. “This is a stunningly bizarre breach of the public trust.”

Organizers of the two events — a teen program about the history of drag at a Delaware County library and an arts-and-crafts activity that had optional makeup tutorials at a Licking County library — say their programs were misunderstood and blame a concerted misinformation campaign.

“Drag 101” was to focus on the theatrical programs of drag, including make-up, hair, and character development, the organizers said.

In Delaware County, critical phone calls came in from 28 states and included what officials termed “veiled threats.” After consulting with local law enforcement, the library canceled “Drag 101.”

Event organizers in Delaware and Licking counties told The Washington Times they wished that Mr. Householder was better informed about the events.

Newark Ohio Pride Coalition, which organizes the annual festivities in Linking County, said no public dollars were spent on the arts program. Both events will be hosted at new sites.

“This isn’t just a 2019 thing,” said Nicole Fowles, spokeswoman for the Delaware County District Library. “This has been around since at least the Elizabethan age, when Shakespeare’s shows were played by men.”

Ms. Fowles and representatives for Newark Ohio Pride Coalition said, to best of their knowledge, Mr. Householder did not contact them to inquire about the youth programs.

Neither Mr. Householder nor his office responded to requests for comment.

But drag has been raising the ire of locals in Ohio recently.

In February, Columbus performer Nina West appeared on VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” In December, video spread of an adolescent boy performing drag at a bar outside Toledo, causing a social media firestorm. The boy’s parents were at the bar during the performance, and critics derided their decision to support their son dressing up as a woman and dancing in public.

In April, Ohio state Rep. Tim Schaffer wrote a bill redefining child exploitation to prohibit “performance in which a child simulates sexual activity.” The bill has not received a hearing in committee.

The mood heading into Linking County’s Pride festival this weekend is still positive, said directors of Newark Ohio Pride Coalition. While they described the county as having “very red” and “very rural parts,” they’ve also received a lot of support.

Last year, Linking County’s inaugural Pride festival drew 1,000 people, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Organizers attributed the higher-than-anticipated attendance, in part, on opposition to county commissioners voting not to light up the courthouse in rainbow colors.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide