Extreme Right Wingers Target Pittsburgh ‘Donuts and Drag’ Campaign Event

It is not going to stop ….

Rachael Heisler is running for the office of City Controller. She currently serves as deputy Controller in that office.

A friend of Heisler’s offered to coordinate one of her campaign kick-off events a ‘Donuts and Drag’ morning event with donuts and a drag artist performing holiday tunes. The artist is Chi Chi de Vivre. It is a family-friendly event. Because kids like donuts and holiday tunes, right?

Somewhere my 11-year-old nibling is pumping his fist!

The braintrust over at ‘Libtards for TikTok’ apparently do not understand that heady childhood holiday combo, choosing to target Heisler, but simply posting her event information with minimal comment. No threat, no rage. Just making sure their folx see the information.

This post and the vicious anti-LGBTQ, anti-drag, anti-child comments that followed were quickly picked up by rightwing outlets.

Several parents said they would never take their children to this sort of event which “normalizes pedophilia” and one Twitter user highlighted that adults are being charged “but kids can get in free.”

DailyVoice

Drag and ‘family friendly’ do not belong in the same sentence. Ever,” one critic said. “To all adults involved in these things across the board, shame on you. Do whatever you want with other consenting adults but leave the children out of it!”

Fox17 Nashville

Heisler and her team are smart. They immediately recognized that this was not merely an attack on her campaign, but an attack on her neighbors and potential constituents. They told me that it was very important to respond in a measured and responsible way that centered the safety and welfare of the LGBTQ community, including drag artists.

Canceling would be capitulation, so they turned to more experienced campaigns and law enforcement for advice. They listened to drag artists and the LGBTQ community. They decided to go ahead with the event, change locations, and hire private security.

The owners and followers of LibsofTikTok are vile bigots.  I spent the last five days hearing from brain-washed, right-wing radicals who tried to harass and intimidate me and my community.  Pittsburghers took notice of the veiled threats and name-calling — and rallied.  We are looking forward to a packed house on Sunday morning for Donuts & Drag.

These social media giants have a responsibility to better moderate their content.  While I reported the tweet and subsequent behavior to Twitter, it was determined by the platform that LibsofTikTok hadn’t broken safety policies.  They perpetuated lies, which lead to harassment of me, my friends, and the businesses they own. It felt pretty unsafe to all of us. 

Rachael Heisler

So the event goes on this Sunday morning. Everyone who registers will receive location details on Saturday.

Earlier today, the Pittsburgh LGBTQ Charities Holiday Gift Card Drive was targeted by rightwing extremists (after being TERFd last month.) It is deeply disturbing situation that I’ll elaborate upon in another post. But it reinforces why it is imperative that we have a HUGE turnout for Rachael’s event. Show up, eat a donut, and listen to some tunes. Shake Rachael’s hand. You don’t have to endorse her or agree with her policies. But we do need to be defiant of those who equate drag artistry with pedophilia. There’s not a lot of wiggle room. Trust me, they are coming for the school boards, too.

I suspect the worst that would happen are protestors turning out on a Sunday morning in the cold and possible snow to chant and jeer a bit. Like Westboro Baptist Church used to do. And my own advice to Heisler’s team was to recruit some folks to respond as we did to WBC – surround the protestors with angel wings or some such barrier to render them impotent. Ask the Nuns of Steel. I also suggested that the Allegheny County Democratic Committee organize training around this tactic ASAP to make sure folx who aren’t as savvy as Heisler’s (who knew enough to call for advice) aren’t on their own.

No candidate should be afraid to participate or host a drag event or any LGBTQ event for fear of having to deal with this crap. They shouldn’t have to choose between openly including the LGBTQ community as campaign participants and the safety of those participants. And they should have good information, best practices even that come out of the midterm elections from the grassroots organizers who are paid by the DNC to make sure every local committee has access to the tools. And those committees should not limit their campaign support in this regard to endorsed candidates only.

So it would be important that these trainings include LGBTQ folx, including drag artists. Not one. Many. Listen to us. Understand how your decision to hire security for an event impacts some of us. Push back on the dragphobia that is being used to silence all of us.

And that’s the goal here. Render us invisible in the campaigns and then render us invisible in the elected offices. Then the policies and laws. Silence us. Mute us. Instill fear and then indifference to strip away even more of our rights. Take away our children.

“I believe wholeheartedly in good government, and making sure that people have equal access to the government that they pay for,” she said in an interview. “I’m running because I believe that I’m the best person to continue the work of advocating for taxpayers [and] connecting problems with solutions.”

WESA FM

Rachael Heisler’s campaign for City Controller did the best things possible with the resource they had on hand. But this whisper/smear campaign won’t stop. Don’t for a minute think that a tweet that generated scores of newspaper articles around the nation about a simple campaign event for the Controll of Pittsburgh is going to stop there. That’s absurd. Most of those newspaper readers have never been to Pittsburgh and don’t know what our Controller does. Few of them have probably ever written about our Controller before (sorry, Mike, but you know …)

The campaign decisions of Pennsylvania candidates should not be dictated by the LTOTT braintrust. The safety and welfare of the LGBTQ community, including drag artists, should not be dictated by good intentions that are not informed by us.

It is my fervent hope that the out elected officials and officials-elect show up on Sunday, along with our best allies, to defy this assault on democracy and LGBTQ people. This is not about the office of City Controller. It is about democracy and the rights of some of the most marginalized members of our communities.

And I hope you will be there. There’s an option if you can’t afford the suggested ticket. Reach out to me, I’ll help.

Meanwhile, I have reached out to ACDC chair Sam Hens-Greco with my training suggestion and offered Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents as a co-sponsor. I hope groups like the Victory Fund and Steel City Stonewall Democrats will also step forward.

Our drag queens and artists have been on the frontline since the dawn of time. They are the ones in the firehalls and VFW’s on weekends in rural Western Pennsylvania, raising funds for those communities and visibility for all of us. They are warriors.

Our children are lucky to have them.

See you on Sunday.

It’s not going to stop.

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