LGBTQ

Denton's Cool Beans Cancels Disney Drag Brunch After 'Threats' and 'Aggressive Phone Calls'

Right-wing groups have increasingly targeted drag brunches in Texas.
Right-wing groups have increasingly targeted drag brunches in Texas. Benson Kua
Denton’s Cool Beans Bar and Grill has canceled a Disney-themed drag brunch performance scheduled for Sunday, citing "aggressive phone calls" and "threats."

Cool Beans announced its decision to cancel the event Thursday night, hours after right-wing media figure Sara Gonzales urged her Twitter followers to protest the event.

Gonzales, a host on Glenn Beck's Blaze TV, had tweeted, "Who's coming with me to shut it down?" Her post was shared by former far-right gubernatorial candidate Don Huffines, who added, "The devil is coming for your kids. What are you going to do to stop this madness?"

In its statement Thursday night, Cool Beans said it had canceled the drag brunch, which was open to all ages, because the performance “caught a lot of attention from certain political groups who have made it very clear that they aren’t happy about this event."

The bar cited the climate of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, saying, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Cool Beans employees declined to comment and said their manager was out of town. But Megan Queen, who used to work at the bar, said she was heartbroken that threats had targeted Cool Beans. Queen added that the bar has long been a welcoming place for the LGBTQ community, explaining that it used to hold a weekly trivia hosted by "a fabulous, infamous and queer host who made everyone feel like they belonged."

Contacted by the Observer, the Denton Police Department said it was "aware" of the reports and "in contact with the business." The department was unable to provide any additional details.

The Cool Beans event is the latest drag show to be threatened by far-right groups. Last month in Roanoke, a drag brunch gained national news attention thanks to a standoff between conservative protesters and an armed leftist group that came to provide security for the performers and audience.

In recent months, Texas has seen a swell in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric as state Republicans and right-wing groups target drag shows, accuse schools and teachers of promoting "gender ideology" and clamp down on medical procedures for trans children.

Cool Beans says its decision to nix the drag brunch isn't a win for right-wing activists and media figures but is a result of fear tactics targeting the businesses' college-aged employees.

“To those of you out there who have forced us to make this decision, shame on you!" the bar said in its statement. "Shame on you for putting fear into us with your threats, your aggressive phone calls, and hateful comments."

Still, Gonzales celebrated the cancellation in a tweet Friday afternoon, accusing the brunch organizers of "grooming" children. She also called on followers to "mobilize" against another upcoming drag show in Katy, located around 30 miles from Houston.

Patrick Riccards, executive director of the nonprofit Life After Hate, which helps former far-right adherents transition out of the movement, said the far right is as rife with anti-LGBTQ bigotry as it is with prejudice against people of color and immigrants.

"The drag community is, in part, about celebrating uniqueness and embracing what makes one different," Riccards said. "It is the antithesis of the [far right's] thinking, which focuses on the singularity of how a community thinks, speaks, acts and even dresses."
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