This drag performer called bingo at her local county fair for years. Then came the backlash.
Author: John Russell
A Minnesota drag performer says that conservative backlash to drag resulted in him not being invited to call bingo at a local county fair for the first time in years.
As the Star Tribune reports, Austin, Minnesota, native Dylan Kaercher has called bingo for the city’s American Legion in drag as Roxi Manacoochi at the Mower County Fair for the past three years. This year, however, amid nationwide attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and misinformation promulgated on social media about drag performers in particular, he was not invited back.
Kaercher said that anti-drag misinformation has reached the small Minnesota community. Members of local conservative group STAND4RIGHT protested a drag story time event at the Austin Public Library in June where Kearcher read to kids in character as Roxi Manacoochi, as he has since 2019. A local pastor, Ed Brady, even wrote to the library board, opposing the event.
“It’s only been in the past year where I feel like every time Roxi goes to do something, I’m met with some sort of vocal backlash,” said Kaercher, who has worked as a full-time performer since 2020.
Kaercher told the Star Tribune that he’d been contacted by someone who’d been told that Kaercher had not been allowed to call bingo at this year’s fair due to concerns about drag. Kaercher said he believes that a new organizer with the local American Legion had opposed his participation this year.
According to the Star Tribune, the commander of Austin’s American Legion post did not respond to a request for comment. Kevin Finley, board president of the Mower County Fair, said that officials do not interfere with groups over social or political issues.
Kaercher said that volunteers have since reached out asking him to participate in next year’s fair, while other venues have reached out inviting him to call bingo and host future events in drag.
“You want your community to be a welcoming community,” said former Austin Mayor Bonnie Rietz. “And for people to feel safe and to feel proud of who they are and what they’re doing.”
Kaercher plans to open a storefront theater and event space in downtown Austin, but the growing anti-drag sentiment in the city has prompted him to install security cameras and extra lights at the new business.
“That’s just kind of the world live in now,” he said, “where someone who is a part of the LGBTQ community as a business owner has to take those precautions.”
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Author: John Russell