Fears of Violence Rise on New Front in Gender Debate: Drag Shows

“I have never in my life seen that,” she said, but added her family felt reassured by the rainbow flags and patches and the fact that one of the de facto guards complimented her son’s earrings. The performance was “incredibly family-friendly,” she said, and a great experience for her son. “When we got back to the car, he said, ‘That was one of the best things I’ve ever been to,’” she said.

The event, in a conservative suburb of Fort Worth, was packed with people, she said.

Similarly, the North Carolina drag show on Saturday night was sold out, with more than 300 people in the audience. It was not the first drag show in the town of Southern Pines, but it had attracted more negative attention online than previous events, said Naomi Dix, the drag performer who hosted the show and asked to be referred to only by her stage name.

Still, when the lights went out, Naomi Dix, who was onstage at the time, thought it was part of the show. So did the people in the audience at first. By that point the protesters outside, whose permit expired before the show began, had gone home.

Soon, everyone inside was singing songs together, illuminating the space with cellphone lights. “My job at that point is to go out into the audience and make sure everybody felt safe,” she said.

Only after, when news spread that the outage had been deliberate, did she worry that it might have been because of her show. Investigators have not ruled out any connection. In the meantime, Naomi Dix is working on putting together a new performance, to make up for the one that was cut short.

Patricia Mazzei contributed reporting.

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