Controversy is brewing in Ely, Minn., over an all-ages Disney-themed drag event scheduled to take place at the Grand Ely Lodge on April 22.
A local pastor wrote a letter to the editor condemning the event, calling it grooming.
“Drag is an anti-God ideology,” Pastor Bob Dalberg wrote. “Womanhood is being mocked by men dressed up like female prostitutes and grotesquely parading themselves in front of children.”
The event is sponsored by Flip Phone Events, a national drag brunch company, and features drag queen Isa Mattila, who previously hosted a drag queen story hour in Grand Marais, according to his Facebook page.
Four other drag queens will be performing, including one who goes by the name Onya Deek. One of the performers, Mercedes Iman Diamond, was previously on RuPaul’s Drag Race, a drag queen reality TV show.
Dalberg compared drag queens to using blackface. “We rightly understand that blackface has been used to mock people of color, why do we not see that drag is a similar mocking of women by men?” he asked.
Dalberg believes that the end goal of drag is sexual and that the outfits drag queens wear are not things worn by women normally. He asked why drag queens don’t dress up like Amish women. “The answer is these men are looking to sexualize women and children in a manner that the modest dress of Amish women would not permit,” Dalberg said.
“Our culture is at a crossroads between life and death. One way is to follow these ideologies and die under the consequences of rejecting God. The other will be to turn in repentance and faith and look to Christ,” he said.
One of the drag queens set to perform in Ely responded to Dalberg on Facebook. “Why are folks always throwing the Bible in things to spread hate,” Sasha Cassadine posted.
Cassadine called Dalberg’s message selfish. “If God is love why don’t you bring your butts to drag brunch and spread that love,” the Facebook post said.
Flip Phone Events also responded on Facebook, calling the letter “absurd”.
This is the second all-ages drag brunch hosted at Grand Ely Lodge. Last year, a sold-out event was held with some of the same performers.
A bill in the Minnesota Senate seeks to categorize drag shows as adult entertainment.
“As we look back the last number of years, we’ve seen an incremental approach by radical progressives to go after our children, targeting their minds, and introducing them to topics that are not appropriate,” said Sen. Eric Lucero, R-St. Michael, the author of the bill. “And as we’ve seen recently now, whether it be in public libraries or other venues, children are being exposed to the performances of drag queens. And what my bill seeks to do is to classify these performances as adult entertainment.”