Child exploitation should not be controversial, yet to the modern LGBT left it seems to be a subjective matter depending on what political or social narrative they want to pursue. Child drag queens appear to be a growing trend after the success of Desmond Napoles, who has been in the public eye since he was nine years old.
While many oppose the idea of minors performing drag at all, it shouldn’t be considered a “conservative” position to oppose them performing drag in adult bars. Drag is inherently sexual in nature. The origin and purpose of drag is to indulge adult humor through exaggerated female impersonation.
Some celebrate drag queens, and rightly so. They provide a unique sense of humor that is often playful, sassy, and so bluntly honest as to be enjoyable to many. But we should all agree it just isn’t for kids.
It’s Not Just Dress-Up, It’s Also Sexual Dancing
LGBT advocates of child drag performers insist it’s just children playing dress-up, as the mother of a nine-year-old performer stated recently: “Jacob is just a guy who likes to dress up and dance and feel pretty… it’s kind of like Halloween every time he has the opportunity to do it.”
It can certainly be argued there is a fine line between a boy dressing-up to “feel pretty” and that same boy dressing in a way that mimics a highly sexualized adult entertainment style. Pretending that there is no distinction is simply avoiding the truth of what is actually being done, even if everyone involved has innocent intentions.
I have no doubt the adults encouraging these kids are doing so out of a sense of openness and a kind nature. I equally do not believe the vast majority of adults cheering inside a bar as the child performs have any malicious motivations. But the sexualized nature cannot be ignored.
Recently, the LGBT site Pink News published a fairly startling headline: “Republican lawmakers want to make child drag shows illegal.” Strangely, this is portrayed as an act of anti-LGBT puritanism by ignorant and malicious Republicans. The article states, “Republican lawmakers in Ohio have filed a bill that would clamp down on drag performances by minors as ‘child exploitation.’”
The writer validates his suspicions by noting House Bill 180, “Prohibit performance in which child simulates sexual activity,” is co-sponsored by other Republicans with a history of anti-LGBT positions. The specific bill language the writer and LGBT advocates oppose states an illegal performance would include one “that suggests a minor is participating or engaging in sexual activity, masturbation, or bestiality and that, taken as a whole by the average person applying contemporary community standards, appeals to prurient interest.”
Jacob’s mother insists she does not allow her son to dance to songs with sexual lyrics and that she attends and monitors his performances. But the photo included in the article portrays the boy dressed in clearly provocative clothing and dancing in a way that should raise an eyebrow for any reasonable person.
Kids Can Be Exploited With Their Clothes On
Being far too literal, the writer argues the child was not specifically engaging in “sexual activity, masturbation or bestiality.” Shockingly, the mayor of Lancaster, Ohio stated in response to the concerns about the performance he had seen online that the boy “was fully clothed and was not touched by anyone in the audience.”
It should be clear to anyone objectively viewing this that the standard of concern should not be ruling out actual sexual activity or adults touching the child during the performance. The article quotes LGBT+ campaigner Kristen Angelo saying, “There is nothing wrong with what Jacob is doing. Nothing sexual, nothing inappropriate.”
The story first gained local attention when a video of a performance of the boy in a gay bar was shared on Facebook: “The story was then picked up by various religious and conservative websites. Critics of a video shared online objected to the boy’s costume, which included a leotard and wig, dance moves characterized as sexual in nature, and that the boy can be seen accepting money from bar patrons during the performance.”
Defending her choice to allow her son to perform in gay bars, Jacob’s mother said, “Where else is there right now for children who identify as being in the LGBT community to explore that interest? There’s not.” Young musicians often perform in bars at the same time of night, she said: “The difference is a lack of wig and heels.”
But that is the point here. Nine-year-old musicians are not performing to drunken audiences in adults-only bars. The difference is far more than just a “wig and heels.”
LGBT Contingent Appears to See No Problem
City police found no violations of state law or city ordinances, and the mayor stated, “The owners and managers of JD Hendersons [bar in question] did not approve of or condone this activity. Upon learning of this performance, the owners quickly condemned the show and banned this troupe of performers from returning to the establishment.”
He continued, “There have been serious threats of violence resulting from this post. Let us hope and pray that no harm comes to person or property as a result of it.” Jacob’s mother claimed to have received death threats and visits from local child protective services.
In a positive direction, State Sen. Teresa Fedor (D.-Toledo), who supports the proposed bill, said of the issue, “When we’re trying to prevent human trafficking from happening, especially the commercial, sexual exploitation of children, I don’t see how this is not very closely related to that issue — that concept of a rape culture where we’re normalizing this type of activity.”
Fedor is correct. A drag performance involves the entertainer typically lip-syncing to a song, dancing as provocatively as possible, and accepting “tips” from the audience during the performance. Many incorporate adult humor into their acts, which audiences loudly celebrate. It is intended to be adult entertainment.
Create Kid Spaces Instead of Exposing Adult Behavior
Jacob’s mother is correct in one area of this discussion, and that is young boys interested in dressing up, dancing, and singing to their favorite female performers and entertaining an audience should have a safe and child-friendly environment to do so. There is no reason LGBT leaders cannot launch a child-friendly performance space to perform in front of other children, parents, and local supporters without incorporating the adult aspects of drag culture. There is no justifiable reason for a nine-year-old to dance on stage in front of drunk adults, accepting money, and being encouraged to mimic adult entertainers.
The core of the issue is that anyone who views this from the outside clearly sees the problem. We do not see innocent dress-up dance parties, as portrayed by LGBT media. We see dark rooms, a stage surrounded by adult men, and a young boy dressed as a miniature adult woman parading around as the men toss money on stage. The only way LGBT activists can respond is to dismiss the concerns altogether or misrepresent what we can clearly see happening.
The exploitation of the child is in the environment and the portrayal. Adults who do prey on children have easy access to these venues, and normalizing this behavior allows young boys with less protective parents to be highly vulnerable. The very nature of the LGBT argument is to suggest the child should be able to freely indulge his or her gender expression and sexuality regardless of what other adults think is best for their safety.
LGBT advocacy does not benefit from stubbornly pretending there is nothing of concern with this activity. LGBT leadership has an opportunity to step up and advocate creative and free gender expression by providing a safe and transparent space for it to occur. While we can disagree on the appropriateness of parents allowing young boys to cross-dress in this fashion, we should all agree it should not be happening at night in a gay bar.
The sponsors of this bill recognize, as state Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) stated perfectly, “Given our heightened focus on human trafficking and the role money plays in trafficking children, I knew I had to take action to make sure this activity does not occur again. We can do better to protect innocent children and we must do better.”
I agree with him and it’s not the sole view of bigots or religious extremists. The average person would easily be able to distinguish why this is such an important and distressing concern. Unfortunately, LGBT activism, as it stands right now, refuses to do so.