Holiday Drag Show Disrupted by Bigoted Protestors


Sloane Antonetz

The Red Oak Community School planned to host Holi Drag, a holiday celebration that includes a drag-queen story hour, on December 3rd. It was to be held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in north Columbus. However, the Ohio chapter of the Proud Boys stated they would be outside of the church protesting against this story hour. “It’s going to be wild,” the group said in a post on the app, Telegram. The story hour was ultimately canceled the morning it was to take place due to the threat of extreme protests and people feeling unsafe without security.

First Unitarian Universalist Church reached out to law enforcement for protection from the protesters but claimed to have heard no response from the Columbus Police Department. However, they were offered a special duty officer but ended up declining this offer, according to Columbus Police. They received a large amount of support from people and organizations in the community wondering what they can do to help, according to a statement released by the church.

The Proud Boys called for protest because they believe that exposing children to drag is inappropriate and a form of child abuse. Many members of the Proud Boys are very outspoken on their thoughts on the transgender community, most not accepting of the community. These beliefs reflect the motive for protesting Holi Drag. 

Saturday’s protest led to there being over 50 protestors, some Proud Boy members and some members from other right-wing groups, such as Patriot Front, an American white nationalist and neo-fascist group. They lined up along High Street, toward Clintonville and north campus, as well as in Clintonville neighborhoods. A number of protestors were armed and dressed in military attire, others held signs expressing their concern for the story hour. For instance, one protestor held a sign that said “Drag yourself away from our children.”

The Columbus Police Department had very little involvement in these protests, but officers were present in case of emergency. CPD Chief Elaine Bryant released a statement explaining their involvement stating that they do not stand for extremist groups to come into Columbus and cause violence. However, they will always protect the right to protest and make sure free speech is exercised peacefully.