Boise Pride Festival Loses Sponsor Over Scheduled ‘Drag Kids’ Performance

Zions Bank announced on Wednesday they were "unaware of the event's activities involving children/minors" and they have made the decision to withdraw their participation of the event.
Reading, PA - April 6: A detail photo of a collection of small Pride Flags, and Transgender Pride Flags. At the LGBT Center of Greater Reading on 13th street in Reading Tuesday afternoon April 6, 2021 where U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat representing Pennsylvania's 6th Congressional District, was visiting on a tour of local community organizations to learn about constituent needs and talk about the American Rescue Plan. (Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images)
Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

A Utah-based bank pulled its sponsorship from the upcoming Boise Pride Festival in response to backlash over a scheduled “Drag Kids” show where children as young as 11 are set to perform on stage.  

Zions Bank posted a statement to Twitter on Wednesday announcing it was “unaware of the event’s activities involving children/minors” and decided to withdraw sponsorship. 

“Over the years, Zions Bank has supported a variety of Pride events because they are an important part of our support for our LGBTQ employees and allies and are representative of our efforts to foster an inclusive, diverse and equitable workplace and community,” the statement read. “This support for all of our employees and communities remains unchanged.”

In a manner of hours, Boise Pride organizers responded with their own statement on Twitter, accusing Zions Bank of responding to “clearly anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and actions” and defending the scheduled “Drag Kids” event.

“Minors have participated in the Boise Pride Festival both on and off stage for many years. Pride and inclusivity do not begin at age 18,” the statement read.

Zions Bank had an “orange tier” sponsorship, according to the brochure, pledging $18,000 for various advertising opportunities and exhibit space. The financial institution was removed from the Boise Pride Festival website following the announcement of its departure on Wednesday evening.

“Drag Kids” is planned for 12:45 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, and is described in the Boise Pride Festival downloadable guide as “a drag show like none other the Drag Kids range from ages 11-18 and are ready to bring it all to the Boise Pride Festival Stage! Come and cheer them on as they bring drag to the younger generation!” 

A newly-elected chairwoman of the Idaho Republican Party, Dorothy Moon, urged businesses to pull their support from the festival on Wednesday, calling on “concerned Idahoans” to “disavow this attack on Idaho’s children and invest their sponsorship dollars” elsewhere.

In a statement, Moon criticized Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and the financial donors of the event for encouraging the “sexualization of children.” 

“Out-of-state companies promise to bring investment and jobs to Idaho,” said Moon. “Instead, they are financing the sexualization of our children and the perverse idea that children should engage in sexual performances with adult entertainers.”

The attention surrounding the event began on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, when the activist and writer Christopher Rufo created a thread criticizing the City of Boise for “hosting a festival featuring child drag queens as young as 11 years old.”

“And yes, drag shows involving children are explicitly designed to re-engineer child sexuality. As the academic queer theorists have explained, these performances are ‘site[s] of queer pleasure’ used to liberate children from ‘the rhetoric of childhood innocence.’” added Rufo, quoting from an academic paper published by “queer theorists” entitled “Drag Pedagogy: The Playful Practice of Queer Imagination in Early Childhood.”

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