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Queer Prom Targeted by Far-Right Influencers and Lawmakers

Queer Prom Targeted by Far-Right Influencers and Lawmakers

Rainbow Room in Bucks County Pennsylvania

The attacks seem to have started after the anti-LGBTQ+ social media account Libs of TikTok went after the prom.

A Pennsylvania LGBTQ+ community has been the focus of abuse and political opportunism brought on by a right-wing media campaign that uses manufactured outrage as a weapon.

Insurrectionist sympathizer and State Sen. Doug Mastriano, who ran for Pennsylvania governor and lost to Democrat Josh Shapiro in 2022, wants drag shows banned in public places, citing a Bucks County resource center and its Queer Prom as examples.

Last week, he announced that he would introduce legislation banning drag shows from being held on public property or anywhere minors can view them. Mastriano wrote in a memo that drag performances that appeal to children have risen. For example, he said Doylestown’s Rainbow Room held a “sexually charged drag show” in October for minors.

“In Pennsylvania, there has been an alarming uptick in drag performances that appeal to children. In April 2022, parents at a school district in Lancaster were shocked to learn about afterschool X-rated drag shows occurring on school property. In October 2022, a sexually charged drag show for audience members as young as 13 was performed at the Rainbow Room in Bucks County,” Mastriano wrote.

Mastriano’s legislation would ban children from being exposed to drag queens by making the law consider drag shows as adult-oriented businesses.

“It is disheartening that legislation like this is needed. Parents have a right to know their children are not being exposed to sexually charged content in a public forum. Drag shows that appeal to minors on school property, libraries, and other public places should not be accepted in any functioning society,” Mastriano said.

In that community, LGBTQ+ teens and their allies faced attacks after Libs of TikTok, which is run by Chaya Raichik, amplified their Queer Prom to its rabidly far-right and anti-LGBTQ+ followers.

Those involved with the party began being harassed as well, the Bucks County Beaconreports.

Libs of TikTok authored a series of tweets focused on people associated with the prom.

State Sen. Steve Santarsiero and a Central Bucks School District board member were the targets.

Taking place in Doylestown in October, the Planned Parenthood-hosted Queer Prom was open to all LGBTQ+ youth and allies aged 13-21 and featured traditional prom activities such as dancing and music.

The annual event began in 2020. That February, the Rainbow Room, which has served LGBTQ+ teens for 20 years, successfully hosted its first Queer Prom to create an accepting and celebratory space. The event went off without a hitch.

However, last month, Libs of TikTok tweeted a clip of a drag queen performing at the event, implying that the prom and drag queens were somehow inappropriate. The post also focused on the gift bags handed out at the event, which included condoms, dental dams, lube, and other noncontroversial health items intended to promote safe sex.

Mastriano announced the following day that he would introduce a bill prohibiting drag shows from public spaces where minors frequent. However, Fox News amplified the story hours later, portraying the event as inherently sexual.

In addition, according to the Bucks County Beacon, Fox News’s story painted the fact that someone in drag was present in a room full of teens as problematic.

Santarsiero said in a statement that the Rainbow Room and events such as the Queer Prom are essential in Central Bucks, where the school board operates in an openly hostile environment for LBGTQ+ students.

In the last few days, Santarsiero has been referred to as a “groomer,” “deviant,” and “pedophile,” among other things, in messages, he said.

But despite accepting attacks against him as a sad part of modern life, he said, “No LGBTQ+ child should have to deal with the hate unleashed here.”

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