Arts & Culture News

The Denton Record-Chronicle Mentioned a Drag Event and Both Are Receiving Threats Now

A drag event and a Denton publication went back and forth with statements after the publication mentioned the event as a longstanding drag show that could be targeted by the city's mayor.
A drag event and a Denton publication went back and forth with statements after the publication mentioned the event as a longstanding drag show that could be targeted by the city's mayor. Photo by Brielle French on Unsplash
The Denton variety drag show Glitterbomb at the Rubber Gloves rehearsal studio canceled its latest event last week, claiming that a mention of the event in a Denton Record-Chronicle article led to a series of threats, according to a statement released by event organizers on Facebook last Friday.

The newspaper responded with its own statement, saying the publication had removed all mention of the Glitterbomb show from an article about Denton Mayor Gerard Hudspeth seeking legal means to shut down drag events and reclassify venues as "sexually oriented" businesses using zoning laws.

An editor's note placed at the top of the article says, "Following safety concerns shared by members of the community and a local organization, this article has been edited to remove that organization’s name."

The Denton Record-Chronicle's story titled "Denton mayor counters criticism over drag brunch inquiry: I just 'asked a question'" was published on Monday, Sept. 12, and was written by reporter Christian McPhate, who is also a former staffer and frequent contributor to the Dallas Observer. The article originally listed Glitterbomb as an example of one of the drag events held in Denton "for decades."

Organizers of the Glitterbomb show scheduled the following Wednesday canceled the event when they became aware of the article, which mentioned the drag show "as an example of a long-standing event that might be at heightened risk, while another event was alluded to (in the same paragraph) without being named, due to 'fears of violence,'" according to the show's statement released on Friday.

Glitterbomb representatives also wrote that they reached out to the Denton newspaper requesting removal of the name of the event from the article, but that its editor refused, citing that it wasn't inaccurate.

Glitterbomb's statement includes a specific address to the Denton newspaper's editor and staff as "dismissive of actual concerns for safety surrounding Glitterbomb," saying they were told by DRC that the event's name "cannot be redacted without compromising journalistic integrity" and describing their feeling as "angry that we were not given the same opportunity to protect our audience and our community."

The Denton Record-Chronicle responded with a statement on Saturday characterizing Glitterbomb's post  as portraying their exchange with the paper in "an inaccurate and unfair light ... taken out of the context of the support and attention this newspaper has brought to Denton's LGBTQ community over the years."

The statement says the article did not mention the show's location, showtimes or contact information.

"And while Glitterbomb was unable to produce 'tangible evidence of threats' in response to our article, we at the DRC are now able to produce tangible evidence of threats as a result of their misguided statement." – The Denton Reporter-Chronicle

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"The article in question was our effort to bring attention to the issues being encountered by Cool Beans and other local drag show performances — along with the exclusive responses of those in local positions of power," the newspaper's statement reads. "The only mention in the article of Glitterbomb was this: 'Drag shows in Denton aren't rare — they've been happening for decades. Glitterbomb Denton has hosted variety shows, including drag, since forming in 2015.'"

Drag shows have recently come under attack by conservative groups. Two local drag shows recently attracted protesters, with one Dallas family brunch event resulting in threats and harassment toward performers. A few local drag events have canceled as a result of threats.

The newspaper's statement says the opportunity was given to Glitterbomb's staff to produce "tangible evidence of threats" but it had not received any before the event released its statement on Friday.

"The response from Glitterbomb was: 'While I do not have any tangible evidence of threats or concerns in the form of emails or social media posts, etc. that you may be interested in, I am still frustrated and concerned for our organization and its mentioning,'" the newspaper statement reads. "And while Glitterbomb was unable to produce 'tangible evidence of threats' in response to our article, we at the DRC are now able to produce tangible evidence of threats as a result of their misguided statement."

Glitterbomb's statement also pointed criticism as Hudspeth and his actions as "direct examples of abuse of power, privilege and negligence of responsibility of leadership."

"We see your actions, where they are executed, and where you are complicit and actions are absent," the statement says. "We demand more, and we demand better." 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.