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North Carolina restaurant countersues anti-drag protesters over ‘groomer’ and ‘pedophile’ smears

East Frank Superette and Kitchen drag show monroe north carolina
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In a heated legal battle, East Frank Superette & Kitchen is defending its drag events against false allegations of child grooming.

Cwnewser

In North Carolina, a simmering cultural clash has boiled over into the federal courts as East Frank Superette & Kitchen, a restaurant in Monroe that has hosted drag shows, fires back with a countersuit against a group of protestors who have branded the establishment as a haven for grooming and sexualizing children.

The restaurant’s recent legal action is in response to claims that it manipulated images to make the protestors appear supportive of its drag shows, which have sparked considerable local debate and opposition, Charlotte CBS affiliate WBTV reports.

The restaurant acknowledges editing the photos but asserts this was done in jest after enduring prolonged protests and serious accusations. Owners Carley Englander and Robert Huffman told WBTV that the images were altered as a satirical jest amidst a backdrop of receiving death threats and hate mail.

The initial lawsuit by the protestors accused East Frank of deceptive trade practices and violation of personal image rights. However, the restaurant’s countersuit alleges that the protestors’ actions, including accusations of grooming and pedophilia, have defamed the establishment and inflicted financial harm.

This countersuit not only seeks redress for these claims but also appears to be setting a stage for a broader legal battle over the portrayal and acceptance of drag shows in the community. The owners express that being labeled as groomers and pedophiles is among the worst accusations imaginable and hope that their legal response will serve as a defense for others facing similar challenges nationwide.

The legal disputes follow a series of protests that began in early 2022 when East Frank first started hosting drag events. Initially seeing these events as harmless and inclusive entertainment, the restaurant soon became the focal point of a more significant cultural clash. As tensions escalated, East Frank imposed an 18-plus age limit on their drag events, citing changes to North Carolina’s obscenity laws.

Both lawsuits are set for U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, though hearing dates have yet to be scheduled.

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).