Drag show in San Antonio among several canceled nationally due to ongoing threats

Local LGBTQ+ leaders working with law enforcement for other events

SAN ANTONIO – A night of entertainment at a local venue on San Antonio’s West Side was canceled Saturday for safety reasons, among several drag shows nationwide threatened by so-called anti-LGBTQ+ extremists this week.

Armed protesters disrupted a library reading in California, and self-described members of the Proud Boys forced a show cancellation in Ohio.

The trend follows recent conversation about children being allowed at drag shows.

In June, Texas Republican State Rep. Bryan Slaton announced that he planned to introduce legislation that would ban minors from attending drag shows in the state.

Since then, there have been protests at drag shows that are advertised for “all ages.”

“It’s unfortunate that we see it happening here in San Antonio as well,” said Robert Salcido Jr., executive director of Pride Center San Antonio.

The Starlighter venue on the West Side had a drag show planned this weekend but had to cancel it after threats surfaced.

Drag queen Brian Hernandez works with the performance group House of Eternas and was supposed to perform at the Starlighter event.

In a statement Monday, Hernandez explained they received threats after a recent performance where the group was raising money for a community toy drive.

They decided to cancel the following drag show for their safety.

“We can’t turn a blind eye on issues like this only to wait until the last minute when one of our family is hurt or shot dead. We feel violated, we don’t feel safe, and we demand something be done about this,” Hernandez stated.

It’s a trend Salcido is seeing.

“These threats are out there, and we can’t say, ‘Oh, it’s only folks talking. There’s not going to be any action.’ We saw what happened at Club Q. We’ve seen what’s happened at drag shows across the U.S. -- armed militias who are, you know, intimidating folks,” Salcido said.

The trend has Salcido working closely with law enforcement.

“I met with the FBI last week, and I’ve been in contact with our LGBTQ plus liaison at SAPD, just really making sure that we are being proactive and not reactive in these situations,” Salcido said.

He said it’s a blurred line between keeping the community safe and standing up to hate.

“We’ve really got to think about who is attending these shows. Is the threat credible? Where do you draw that line? And there’s no easy answer for that,” Salcido said.

Salcido hopes the public will educate themselves on what drag shows actually are before spewing hate.

“It is the art of impersonation. It’s the art of entertainment. It’s fun. Nothing that they’re doing at a drag show is harming the folks that intend to protest, or kids, or families,” Salcido said.

With the community’s support, Salcido feels confident choosing strength over fear.

“The fact remains is that we are all human, and we should all coexist with one another and learn to love and learn to respect one another,” he said.

That being said, there are members of the local LGBTQ+ community who do not support drag shows with children in the audience.

In response to the situation, KSAT received a statement from the Log Cabin Republicans of San Antonio, described as the “nation’s original and largest organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies who support fairness, freedom, and equality for all Americans.”

In the statement, the San Antonio chapter said, “The Log Cabin Republicans of San Antonio do not promote hate nor bigotry. It is shameful the gay community uses these words loosely to defend their inappropriate actions.  The protests are about the gay community not having simple decency or respect for children - no matter if the parents allow children to view such obscenities. Drag is an art and entertainment for adults and should stay that way.”


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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.