Dallas Pride Cancels Drag Event as Funding Flops

LGBT rainbow flags being waved in the air at a pride event. | Image by Iryna Imago/Shutterstock

LGBTQ organization Dallas Pride had to cancel its Pride Street Party event, “A Night of a Thousand Drag Queens,” after the organization failed to raise sufficient funds, The Dallas Express learned.

Christine Bengston, the interim executive director of Dallas Pride, said the organization aimed to raise at least $75,000 for the event, which was scheduled for August 26. She said her organization set up a GoFundMe and reached out to sponsors, but the undisclosed total raised “wasn’t a lot.”

“It’s kind of embarrassing,” Bengston told The Dallas Express.

Bengston said the event was initially scheduled for July but was pushed to August after fundraising struggles.

The event’s theme, “A Night of a Thousand Drag Queens,” was chosen in response to a bill signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year. Senate Bill 12 criminalizes performances that include “sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics” in the presence of children.

While the bill does not specifically mention drag shows, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said it targets drag performances. The law will take effect next month.

“We were hoping and were billing it as a last hurrah to come fill the street with drag queens,” Bengston told The Dallas Express. “We thought that people would come together. Well, it didn’t work.”

Kelly Neidert, executive director of the activist group Protect Texas Kids, said she is not surprised that Dallas Pride is struggling to maintain support after a wave of videos have surfaced showing “all-ages” drag shows across North Texas in recent months, including some with minors in attendance.

“It seemed trendy for a while to host drag events with children, but all this footage on how explicitly sexual it is has changed the narrative,” Neidert told The Dallas Express. “People are waking up to the fact that it isn’t appropriate.”

One “all-ages” drag show last year in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at Anderson Distillery and Grill, called “Barrel Babes Drag Brunch,” was hosted by the owner’s son, whose drag name is Trisha Delish. The event was attended by several children, who were shown in videos handing cash to drag queens at the apparent encouragement of adults. The restaurant announced this month it is moving from its Roanoke location to Denton, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Bengston said her organization is short on cash after its events for Pride Month. She said the funds raised for the now defunct street party will be utilized for next year’s Pride Month events, which have a budget goal of “$1 million plus.”

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