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Boise Pride drops 'Drag Kids' event after mounting pressure

Lacey Daley
Boise State Public Radio

After backlash ranging from the Idaho Republican Party to its own sponsors over the past day, Boise Pride Festival is “postponing” its Drag Kids event.

“While the vast majority of our sponsors and supporters have voiced their support for the Boise Pride Festival and the Drag Kids program, we have made the very difficult decision to postpone this performance due to increased safety concerns,” festival organizers wrote in a statement released late Thursday afternoon.

“They are brave, beautiful and deserve their chance to be in the spotlight, and we want to give that to them at a later date.”

A protest of the Drag Kids performance organized by a far-right group was scheduled for Sunday.

Over the past day or so since Idaho Republican Party Chair Dorothy Moon called for sponsors to withdraw from the event, several have done so.

That includes Zions Bank, Idaho Power and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

When Boise State Public Radio first spoke with Donald Williamson, executive director of the festival, a few hours after the statement was published, he said he didn’t expect any sponsors to drop out.

“No sponsor at any level of support receives approval of the Boise Pride stage lineup,” festival organizers said after Zions Bank pulled out Wednesday. “…we stand behind our entire Boise Pride entertainment lineup.”

Moon and the state GOP mounted a pressure campaign against what they called the “sexualization” of children participating in the event. They provided phone numbers of some of the event’s largest sponsors.

“If you oppose taxpayer funded events that sexualize children, particularly when they are held on 9/11, then please place a civil call to the event’s sponsors, expressing your disappointment,” one notice read.

“For those of you involved in community organizations, churches, synagogues, or temples, please consider working with your leadership to plan peaceful counter demonstrations or phone banking to these corporate sponsors.”

On her campaign Facebook page, Moon said she just closed her account with Wells Fargo, another Boise Pride Festival sponsor in response.

“…we should not patronize businesses or institutions that are committed to undermining our values or that target the innocence of children,” she wrote.

Several opponents of the festival on social media repeatedly referred to supporters as “groomers” – a nod to the unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory that Democrats and the elite run an underground pedophilic, satanic, sex cult.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean tweeted her support for the festival Thursday afternoon, saying the “inflammatory rhetoric” of the past day necessitates a conversation to “encourage, embrace and support the diversity and dignity of all people.”

“I hope to see many of you at the festival this weekend,” McLean wrote.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!