Threats shut down Eastern Kentucky drag show fundraiser
After at least a dozen threats, a Prestonsburg drag show fundraiser originally scheduled for Saturday has been canceled.
Organizer Kyle May said the wave of threats came after he spoke with a local news outlet to promote the fundraiser, which he estimated could have raised around $3,000.
Called “Come As You Are,” the show was to feature drag performers Corabelle Bundy Jolie, Amber Nicole, Tiara Love and Viktor Diamond who planned to discuss their own journeys toward self-acceptance and lip sync to songs about the value of appreciating one’s self.
Money raised at the event would have gone toward a gender-affirming resource bank, which would have provided clothing, binders, hygiene products and makeup to people in need, May said.
May, who also runs Lexington’s Open Doors Counseling, planned to incorporate mental health services as well.
But on Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday, May and the event received at least 12 comments and messages on social media that were “overwhelmingly threatening.”
“They were starting to talk about … bringing guns and coming armed,” he said. “Then there (were) groups being created to organize, to protest and show up with loaded guns. To me, the threats started becoming more and more legitimate.”
The local police were willing to come out and help protect people, he said, but he didn’t want to risk anyone being in danger.
In a social media post about the cancellation, Pikeville Pride said the new and “extremist behavior” is “directly tied to anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation across the country.”
“Many of our own representatives here in the commonwealth want to silence us and erase our existence,” Pikeville Pride’s statement said. “However, we won’t be silenced.”
May also said he believes the threats came now because of the session.
“I believe it’s because that’s a recent activity in Frankfort with the attempts to pass the anti-LGBTQ legislation,” he said. “I think it’s given people courage and they’re feeling brave. And I believe that they think that this is going to be okay and tolerated now.”
Drag shows were a focus of this legislative session. A bill advanced that would criminalize “sexually explicit” drag shows on public land or around minors.
Proponents of the measure said they wanted to protect children, while opponents said such a law could harm the larger LGBTQ+ community.
That bill wasn’t passed before the Senate and House recessed for the veto period. It could still pass on the final two days of the session – at the end of March. Gov. Andy Beshear could still veto it at that point, but the legislature couldn’t override him.
Another widely criticized bill passed and awaits Beshear’s signature or veto. It would ban gender affirming care for minors and say transgender children can’t use the bathroom of their choice at school, among other things.
“What I think they’re trying to do is eradicate the LGBT community,” May said. “We will not be eradicated.”