On June 11, Waterloo Park in Austin hosted “Rainbow on the Creek,” an event billed as a “free family-friendly celebration that connects, educates, and celebrates Austin’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQIA+) community.”
The event was sponsored by a number of well-known corporations and brands, including Texas-based grocery retailer H-E-B. This iconic Texas brand is owned by Charles Butt, who inherited H-E-B in 1971 and has overseen its growth into one of the largest privately-held businesses in the country.
The H-E-B-sponsored event featured many programs specifically geared toward children, including a “Drag Queen Storytime” presented in partnership with the Austin Public Library, a “recess” event, and a “family-friendly, all ages” drag show that featured a group calling themselves the Hydrated Queer Kitties.
When asked about children attending these events, a member of the group said, “I think it’s important that we normalize anything that is being expressed on stage, like sexuality and like love between different genders.”
According to its website, the event also featured a “Queer BIPOC and Latinx artisan & craft market,” “free onsite gender-affirming care & sexual health testing services,” and “many more activities for the whole family.”
The Rainbow on the Creek event took place just eight days after The Dallas Express reported on another apparently highly-sexualized event for children, hosted at the Mr. Misster Lounge in Dallas and called “Drag the Kids to Pride.”
Footage from this event shows a drag queen inviting numerous children in attendance to perform on stage against the backdrop of a large neon sign that reads, “IT’S NOT GONNA LICK ITSELF!”
Weeks after the Rainbow on the Creek event, the Pease Park Pride Picnic was held on June 26 in Austin, attracting many corporate sponsors and billing itself as a family event that featured drag queen story time, face painting, and other activities provided for children.
While these controversial events directed toward children continue to gain corporate sponsorships from companies like Charles Butt’s H-E-B, they have been called a “disturbing trend” by State Rep. Bryan Slaton, who has vowed to file legislation banning minors from attending drag shows.
The Dallas Express reached out to H-E-B for comment on its sponsorship of the Rainbow on the Creek event, its assessment of the activities intended for children at this event, and whether it would sponsor similar events in the future.
As of the writing of this article, H-E-B has not responded.