A Dallas gay bar is under fire for hosting an afternoon drag show for children Saturday where kids were invited onstage and tipped performers in front of a neon sign bearing an obscene message.
The “Drag the Kids to Pride” show at the Mr. Misster bar was billed as a “family-friendly” version of the bar’s regular “Champagne Drag Brunch.” During Saturday’s event, drag performers danced with and took dollar bills from some of the children, according to ABC affiliate WFAA.
“Do you want to hit the stage with the queens?” read a promotion for the event. “We have FIVE limited spots for young performers to take the stage solo, or with a queen of their choosing!”
Images from inside the club went viral and showed performers and children in front of a neon sign that read “It’s not gonna lick itself!”
It's not ok to tell kids "it's not gonna lick itself" https://t.co/h7GHg3djJj
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) June 4, 2022
Outside the club, protesters gathered to complain that the event was grooming children.
“I live in this community,” a woman who gave her name as Dasy and was holding a sign that said, “Stop grooming children,” told WFAA. “I have for several years. I don’t believe that I should be seeing signs advertising for children to be dancing on stage with men in thongs and in inappropriate clothing and makeup.”
A group called “Protect Texas Kids” protested outside and said it had hoped to scuttle the event as soon as it heard about it.
“The mission was to raise awareness that an event like this, a drag show for children, was happening right in Dallas,” the organization said in a statement. “We also hoped that if we raised awareness, the event might be canceled or modified so that children couldn’t be present.”
Although Protect Texas Kids said Dallas police removed children and families from inside the bar, police officials told WFAA they were on hand only for crowd control.
Online, critics were even more outspoken.
“7 year olds tipping drag queens and hanging out in a 21 and up bar & the Dallas Police dept is letting it happen … why not enforce the law?” tweeted Alex Stein.
“What happened in Dallas today with the children at the drag show was pure evil,” tweeted Election Wizard.
After the event, the bar released a statement claiming it was raising money for a local LGBTQ+ youth organization and accused protesters of being “transphobic.”
“We are more than happy to open our doors to celebrate Pride in a family friendly, safe environment, separate from our normal operations of 2 p.m. – 2 a.m. on Saturdays because we believe that everyone should have a space to be able to celebrate who they are,” the statement read. “Mr. Misster is a place where everyone is welcome to feel accepted, safe and included. We had a group of protestors outside yelling homophobic threats, transphobic remarks and vile accusations at these children and parents.”