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GLAAD AND OKLAHOMA COMMUNITY LEADERS RESPOND TO FIREBOMBING OF DONUT SHOP AFTER DRAG EVENT
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding alongside local community leaders in Oklahama after a small business, Tulsa’s The Donut Hole, was firebombed this week in relation to a drag event that had been planned for Thursday, November 3rd. A security video posted by the business owners on Monday showed a person breaking the windows with a baseball bat shortly before lighting a Molotov cocktail and throwing it inside the store. It was the second time in two weeks that the Donut Hole had been vandalized; the owners said their storefront windows had been smashed in the night after it hosted an art event featuring local drag queens on October 15. A fundraiser that had been created to cover repairs saw a surge in donations after the second attack, raising over $23,000 by Friday morning—far surpassing the initial goal of $2,500.
The firebombing was the latest in a string of increasingly violent threats and protests made in response to drag events around the country. GLAAD is tracking the events and will soon release data on the number of incidents. A Media Matters report on Friday detailed how the increase in anti-drag threats and protests are linked to relentless misinformation about drag on media networks like Fox News and The Daily Wire.
Oklahoma has no nondiscrimination protections at the state level that include sexual orientation or gender identity. At least 225 anti-LGBTQ state bills have been filed so far this year, according to Freedom For All Americans, including at least 17 in Oklahoma. Bills passed into law in Oklahoma include bans on transgender and nonbinary youth from participating in school sports, a ban on transgender and nonbinary youth using school restrooms that match their gender, a ban on nonbinary gender markers on birth certificates, and a bill to strip funding from a hospital unless it ceased to provide gender-affirming care for transgender youth. There are currently only five out LGBTQ elected officials in Oklahoma.
Statement from GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis
“This heinous and criminal act against the LGBTQ community and our allies in Tulsa is directly linked to harmful rhetoric in media and on social media that goes unchecked. Fox News and other right-wing media outlets, along with high-traffic anti-LGBTQ social media accounts, have been relentlessly targeting drag, an art form with centuries of history across cultures, and are encouraging violence that puts everyone at risk. GLAAD urges all community members and allies to speak out and show solidarity with our community in Tulsa, and with drag performers across the country who are facing baseless and dangerous attacks.”
Statement from Nicole McAfee, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma
“By now, you’ve possibly seen footage from or read stories about a recent incident of someone targeting harm at a Tulsa donut shop in response to a recent event they hosted featuring drag performers. This comes in the wake of Bartlesville city officials considering a ban on drag performances. As elected and appointed officials across and beyond Oklahoma weaponize rhetoric to paint 2SLGBTQ+ folks, but especially transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and people whose gender expression includes drag, as harmful, as targets for ostracization and violence. As mail drops ahead of an election day sharing hateful messages targeting harm at 2SLGBTQ+ people. To target allies of the 2SLGBTQ+ community is an attempt to further isolate us, to create a false choice between being fearfully ourselves or the sham of silent safety. But let us be clear: 2SLGBTQ+ people have always existed here. The settler construct of a gender binary has no place on this land. This is not a moment for 2SLGBTQ+ allies to be silent, but rather a sign that now more than ever we need you to show up in ways that expand safety for our most vulnerable community members. Drag has always been an act of joy and resistance. We hope you’ll make room to celebrate drag performers, 2SLGBTQ+ people, to fight for our joy and our safety. In Tulsa, OK and beyond.”
Statement from Deon Osborne, Black Wall Street Times Managing Editor
“This domestic terrorist act is another example of how the same kind of violent, hateful dehumanization that led a city-sanctioned white mob to burn down 36 square blocks of the Greenwood District is not just alive today but bubbling under the surface. If left unchecked, these violent acts against marginalized people will continue. This coward did what he did because he felt emboldened to. Ensuring a safe community for all Tulsans requires city leaders to be leaders. We can never be One Tulsa as long as the city fails to protect LGBTQIA+ residents.”
Statement from Luke Scuitto, Membership Coordinator at Equality Business Alliance in Tulsa
“There are hundreds of LGBTQ+ affirming businesses that intentionally embrace the community across this city actively investing in our Queer and Trans family. Because Tulsans do not have nondiscrimination protections in public accommodations, it is critical that businesses explicitly commit to inclusivity.”
Statement from Daniel McHenry, Founder and Executive Director of Black Queer Tulsa
“Tulsa is a growing progressive community and attitudes of this nature do not push us forward, they push us back. Everyone wants to live their lives in peace, and that includes queer people. We want to feel safe when we go and support one another, and when we go to a public place. This act of violence didn’t make anyone feel safe. To our queer community and allies: these are the times where we pull together as a community and fight against things like this. This is our time to feel loved, safety, inclusion, and togetherness from our community. Stay strong, continue to show up for yourselves and for others. Down with hate, up with love. Love always wins.”
Statement from Joshua Payton, Esq., Founder of the Oklahoma Equality Law Center
“The Oklahoma Equality Law Center stands in solidarity with the Donut Hole and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and denounces in the strongest terms this targeted terrorism against such a loving locally-owned family business. The violent attacks are the direct result of the continued stochastic terrorism incited by Governor Stitt and the state and national leaders of the Republican Party who continue to target the 2SLGTBQIA+ community with hateful rhetoric and blatant discriminatory legislative and executive actions. We call on all local, state and national leaders to denounce this terrorism and to end the targeted political and legislative attacks on such a loving and beautiful community.”
Rising anti-LGBTQ sentiment and misinformation, amplified by high-profile media figures such as Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and elected officials like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, have emboldened threats and attacks on teachers, librarians, and other public servants—including private businesses like The Donut Hole—regardless of whether they are members of the LGBTQ community. On June 10, GLAAD responded to an uptick in incidents targeting drag queen story hours. On June 24, the American Library Association released a statement that condemned an “alarming increase in acts of aggression toward library workers and patrons” nationwide. On July 12, the president of the Corpus Christi, Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers reported that anti-LGBTQ activists shot at her home after she handed out books with LGBTQ characters at an LGBTQ Pride event.
Resources for media covering rising anti-LGBTQ sentiment:
● The GLAAD Accountability Project monitors and documents individual public figures and groups using their platforms to spread misinformation and false rhetoric against LGBTQ people, youth, and allies
● GLAAD’s guide to reporting on anti-LGBTQ state legislation
● GLAAD’s guide to reporting on book bans and school censorship
● GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Index details how tech platforms have failed to rein in rising anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and hate onlines
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
Nex Benedict (they/them), a 16-year-old student at a public high school in Owasso, Oklahoma, died…