SAN ANTONIO – A drag show planned for Saturday evening in New Braunfels is getting a lot of attention and backlash online.
Faith Church UCC is hosting the event on their property, and organizers say it will be an inclusive, family-friendly show that preaches acceptance.
“There are times when certainly our beliefs that differ can be hard for people, but our stance has always been peace and justice,” said Rev. Dr. Carla Cheatham, senior pastor at Faith Church UCC.
The church’s decision to host a drag show for local families and children has come under fire.
“What we wanted to accomplish was to do just a fundraiser to support area youth and area causes, and to highlight the beauty of the art form of the professionals who work as entertainers, and to lend support that we believe they are beautiful and holy and worthy too,” said Cheatham.
Cheatham said the church started planning the event months ago, but with the current environment and legislation surrounding drag shows in Texas, it’s become more of a heated topic.
“We are allowing parents to make the decision for their families about whether they feel comfortable having their children come to such an event,” said Cheatham. “We get that people want to protect children, and so do we, so we share that value, and we have no problem with people expressing their concerns civilly.”
Cheatham said she’s seen the backlash online and received threatening messages in an effort to get the show canceled. She expects protests but also believes that canceling or changing the age limit for the show would go against the church’s mission.
“We had a concern that it would communicate to the drag community that we were agreeing with the rhetoric, rhetoric that’s being spouted, that they are all sorts of horrible things,” said Cheatham. “We felt as an issue of justice that it was important that we not contribute to the narrative. We believe that it’s important for us to take a stand. And this is one area where we thought it was important to do so.”
The event will feature three artists and a reception with all proceeds going to local charities. Cheatham said the performers are accustomed to performing in front of families in ways that are appropriate for children that are present.
“We are not sexualizing them. We are not grooming them. We are not going out and collecting them on the streets and enticing them to come,” said Cheatham. “We’re simply providing the safe space for kids to learn to interact with people of all sorts because our own deeply held religious beliefs are that as we recognize the humanity of everyone and the worth of everyone, and that as we teach our children to do the same, that they will grow up to become more engaged, more compassionate, more fair-minded citizens. Part of our responsibility is to raise people, young people who believe that all people get to be treated equally.”
Despite the heavy backlash, Cheatham has received support from others for what she says is a celebration of diversity and bringing people together.
“What has been the most touching have been the people who have said, ‘I may not completely agree with everything that your church stands for, but this is not my New Braunfels, this is not my town. Please know that this is a very loud minority that is trying to impose their will upon you, and they do not speak for the rest of us,’” said Cheatham.
The church sold 100 tickets for this event, which was sold out weeks ago. Cheatham said she has been in contact with local law enforcement about security and any potential threats.
“We’re not the ones bringing the angry, nasty rhetoric. None of our energy will be spent towards the protesters,” said Cheatham. “It will be spent all toward the attendees and the performers. We are bringing nothing on ourselves. We are performing a legal event, exercising our deeply held religious beliefs.”
KSAT reached out to several individuals and groups who opposed the drag show, but there were no responses to our requests for an interview when this story aired.