Videos showing a little girl dancing at an all-ages drag show in Salt Lake City and collecting cash from cheering audience members has drawn intense online backlash from detractors — and now the owner of the venue that hosts the show, the drag queen who produces it, and the dancing girl's father are fighting back, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
What are the details?
Tea Zaanti, a tea and wine cafe, hosts the “Bes-Teas" drag show on the third Friday of every month, the Tribune said, adding that Tara Lipsyncki — a Utah drag queen — produces the event to be family-friendly; there's no swearing, and it features Disney songs.
Lipsyncki told the paper the all-ages show is meant to demonstrate that “a child can be who a child wants to be" and can be "loved unconditionally.”
During the Aug. 19 show, August Wachter’s daughter began dancing to the song “We Don’t Talk About Bruno" from the Disney movie “Encanto" and later held a drag queen's hand and collected tips from the crowd, the Tribune reported.
Six days later, Tea Zaanti — with the Wachters' permission — posted two clips from the show on social media, the paper said.
What happened next?
Libs of TikTok picked up the video, and then Tea Zaanti was hit with “an endless barrage of harassment” and negative comments, Scott Lyttle, who owns the shop with his wife, Becky, told the Tribune:
- “Evil people are doing the devil’s work here,” one Yelp commenter from Florida wrote, according the paper.
- “That is just plain child abuse,” said another from Texas, the Tribune said.
- “Maybe the people who make decisions here are all about abusing children for their pleasure,” wrote a commenter from Arizona, the paper said.
Lyttle added to the Tribune that they've been called groomers and disgusting perverts and even likened to Jeffery Epstein.
“It’s a mess,” Lyttle told the paper. “Most of these people aren’t even from Utah.”
Yelp temporarily disabled posting to Tea Zaanti’s page, citing “increased public attention, which often means people come to this page to post their views on the news," the Tribune reported.
Lyttle told the paper that the cafe’s Google rating dropped from 4.9 stars (out of five) to 4.7 stars in a matter of hours; and while Google deleted one-star comments that included harassing language, one-star reviews without comments are not immediately removed.
Wachter noted to the Tribune that he's angry about the threats and accusations that his daughter was being sexualized by dancing with drag queens.
“Nobody in that crowd, on that stage, was sexualizing things,” Wachter told the paper.
Lyttle added to the Tribune that Wachter's daughter “got so inspired she ran up to the stage and started dancing. The crowd loved it.”
Lipsyncki agreed with Lyttle and added to the paper that the drag queen was “dancing innocently with a kid.”
Wachter shared with the Tribune that his daughter suffers from anxiety but has always found an outlet in dance: “The fact that she was able to get up there with total strangers, be brave enough to do her thing, it was heartening for us."
Wachter added to the paper that he's shocked that Instagram lets the Libs of TikTok account remain active considering the comments left on the video — such as suggestions that his daughter be taken away.
“The actual grooming that’s happening is on the other side, where all these people are grooming their kids to hate other people because of how they dress and who they love,” Watcher told the Tribune. “As parents, we’re trying to raise our kids to be good, respectful human beings for everyone around them.”
'A deep hatred'
Lipsyncki told the paper that members of the region's conservative culture hold "a deep hatred" for "the LGBTQIA community, and anyone that’s different because we are, in their mind, infiltrating their safe space.”
“We’ve always been here," Lipsyncki also told the Tribune. "Utah isn’t the super red state it was even 10 years ago. It’s changing and these people are just trying to hold onto this idea of what they want Utah to be and what they want their children to be a part of.”
Lipsyncki added to the paper that the all-ages drag shows will continue, even if security has to be added.
“What is the true issue? Why are you scared of this drag performance? What is your core issue? Is it that you do not believe in homosexuality and think it’s a sin?” Lipsyncki asked, according to the Tribune. “OK, that’s fine. Then don’t come to the show. I don’t go to your church and protest.”