Conservative media reacted strongly after video of isolated participants in the recent New York City Drag March chanting “We’re coming for your children” went viral online.
Fox News accused NBC News of straining to claim the chant was taken out of context. A conservative columnist wrote that the network “tried their best to say that the chant was actually taken out of context and they were doing it ironically.” Another columnist called for the abolition of Pride Month.
The video shows participants in the NYC Drag March, which took place Friday. Marchers pass by holding signs, wearing various Pride-themed attire, and chanting “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going shopping.” A few seconds into the video an apparent lone voice chanted “We’re coming for your children” twice. Another person appeared to repeat the phrase on the second chant before switching back to “We’re not going shopping.”
What was clear from the video, however, is that the chant was isolated to no more than two people.
The controversy started when the same site that Tuesday called for the abolition of Pride posted a video clip of the march and the isolated chants.
Right-wing media and pundits quickly claimed the video was proof of a conspiracy within the LGBTQ+ community seeking to groom children for future abuse.
“It’s all just words,” Brian Griffin, the NYC Drag Parade’s original organizer, told NBC News, disputing those who called the chant proof of predators within the community. “It’s all presented to fulfill their worst stereotypes of us.”
The first female chair of the city’s Gay Liberation Front and professor emerita at Pace University, Karla Jay, agreed with Griffin, positing the chant is part of the practice of reclaiming anti-LGBTQ+ language and slurs. The ultimate purpose of these types of actions is to “take the sting out” of hate directed at the community.
“I grew up in the time where it was considered really bad to be called ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or anything like that, and what we did is we reclaimed words,” she told NBC. “Think of the Dyke March — these were words that could not be printed.”
Others told NBC News the “coming for your children” chant has been popular at Pride for years. NBC noted the chant was used at a march organized by ACT UP in 1990 and at various demonstrations in Chicago by AIDS activists through the 1990s.
A community note on NBC’s original Twitter post disputed those claims, though, saying that the chant “appears to originate from the San Francisco Gay Men’s choir singing a song with this title two years ago in 2021.” However, that community note appears to have been removed.
While right-wing media overreacted and used the incident to further attacks on the LGBTQ+ folks, not everyone within the community was pleased either. Metro Weeklydescribed the chant as “perhaps one of the most tone-deaf attempts at tongue-in-cheek humor.”
And the organizer of this year’s NYC Drag March told NBC via email the chant was a “bad joke” that was being used to further attacks on the community. But regardless of the merits or motivation of the chant, Hucklefaery Ken, who performs in drag as Sister-Lotti Da, emphasized the LGBTQ+ community always puts the safety of children first.
“We won’t tolerate harm towards any child and advocate for the protection and encouragement of every child to be able to live their true, authentic lives free from fear and persecution,” Ken said.