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Right-wing protesters target Dallas drag event

Oak Lawn gay bar hosted ‘family-friendly’ show

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(Photo by Chad Mantooth/Dallas Voice)

The “Drag the Kids to Pride” drag show to kick off Pride month in Dallas found itself to be a flashpoint between anti-LGBTQ right-wing protesters, attendees of the event and police at a popular gay bar and safe space in the city’s Oak Lawn neighborhood.

The organizers of the drag event billed it as a “family-friendly” drag queen story hour event at Mr. Misster, located at the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Reagan Street, but according to both the Dallas Voice, the local LGBTQ media outlet, and WFAA 8, protesters also showed up outside the event, some carrying signs that read “Stop grooming the kids” and “Stop exploiting kids” and similar variations. 

According to WFAA, during the event, drag performers danced and walked down the aisle in the center of the room. At times, the dancers would take dollar bills from some of the children. Kids also walked with the dancers down the aisle during the event.

Cannon Brown, a Dallas LGBTQ activist and founding former head of the Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, took to Facebook posting pictures of the protestors captioning the post with “Christofascists on Cedar Springs in front of Mr Misster. Get down here.”

Photos posted by the Dallas Voice journalist Tammye Nash, using photos by Chad Mantooth, show one protester carrying a sign declaring “confuse a child, abuse a child,” and another had a sign shouting “stop groomers.” Yet another demands, “Stop exploiting our kids.” And, in what is apparently a swipe at the rainbow power of Pride month, one woman wore a black T-shirt with a block of rainbow colors saying “rainbow revival.”

Photo by Chad Mantooth

One woman who was protesting, Dasy, who didn’t want to give her last name, told WFAA that she first saw the poster for the event near where she lives. She was at the bar after the event with a “Stop grooming the kids” poster.

“I live in this community,” Dasy said. “I have for several years. I don’t believe that I should be seeing signs advertising for children to be dancing on stage with men in thongs and in inappropriate clothing and makeup. I do not in any way condone the behavior that these people are engaging in, but what drags me out here is its kids now.”

A media statement the venue released after the event noted:

“We host our Champagne Drag Brunch every Saturday at 2 p.m. for guests that are 21+ but we have partnered with some of our major community partners to host a special Pride Drag Brunch for all guests, including guests that couldn’t normally attend our regular show because of the drinking age restriction, to raise money for a local LGBTQ+ youth organization.

We are more than happy to open our doors to celebrate Pride in a family friendly, safe environment, separate from our normal operations of 2 p.m. – 2 a.m. on Saturdays because we believe that everyone should have a space to be able to celebrate who they are.

Mr. Misster is a place where everyone is welcome to feel accepted, safe and included. We had a group of protestors outside yelling homophobic threats, transphobic remarks and vile accusations at these children and parents.

It is so sad to see that in 2022, there are people that still want to protests others celebrating who they are, but our staff and wonderful officers helped keep us safe and kept the protestors at bay.”

In a statement provided by the anti-LGBTQ group Protect Texas Kids tried to claim that Dallas police officers had “removed” the children from the drag show, which WFAA reported as untruthful, a fact verified by the Dallas Police Department.

A spokesperson for the police department told media outlets that its officers showed up to “assist with crowd control” and help the crowd “disperse in a safe manner.”

“We decided to organize this protest when we saw advertising for the event a few weeks ago — we researched the bar and quickly found out that it’s a gay bar, and we were also pretty concerned when we saw the signage on the bar’s website that says ‘it’s not gonna lick itself.’ We just launched our organization and this was our first event.  

The mission was to raise awareness that an event like this, a drag show for children, was happening right in Dallas. We also hoped that if we raised awareness, the event might be canceled or modified so that children couldn’t be present. 

We were very happy with how the event went overall. The police were able to come in and remove all of the children and their families from inside of the bar. There were a lot of people in attendance who didn’t have kids, so those people were able to stay and the event continued.”

According to WFAA, Mr. Misster also said the bar had received several hundred threatening emails, nasty Google reviews and aggressive threatening phone calls from protestors.

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Texas

Pornhub blocks Texas accessing site over age verification law

Court battle forced statute to take effect

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Washingtonporn Blade graphic

Aylo (formerly MindGeek) the largest global adult online entertainment conglomerate, owned by Canadian private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners, has restricted access to its platforms including its flagship Pornhub in Texas after a court battle forces the state’s age verification law to take effect.

Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton had appealed a U.S. District Court decision that enjoined him from enforcing House Bill 1181. Paxton and others argued that purveyors of obscene materials online needed to institute reasonable age-verification measures to safeguard children from pornography. 

A week ago the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partially vacated the original injunction, ruling that the age verification requirements are constitutional. 

“Applying rational-basis review, the age-verification requirement is rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in preventing minors’ access to pornography,” the three judge panel of the 5th Circuit explained. “Therefore, the age-verification requirement does not violate the First Amendment.”

While the court vacated the injunction against the age-verification requirement of the statute, it upheld the lower court’s injunction against a separate section of the law that would require pornography websites to display a health warning on their landing page and all advertisements. 

Texas users are greeted with this notice.

The Houston Chronicle reported people who go to the site are now greeted with a long message from the company railing against the legal change as “ineffective, haphazard, and dangerous.” The company calls for age verification by the makers of devices that let people on the internet, instead of individual websites.

Age verification legislation was enacted in several states in 2023 in addition to Texas, including North Carolina, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah and Virginia.

The new laws require users to provide digital confirmation via a certified approved third party vendor like London-based digital identity company Yoti. The other possibility would be a state approved digital ID such as the California DMV’s Wallet app, which contains a mobile driver’s license.

Users accessing Pornhub from within Louisiana are presented with a different webpage that directs them to verify their age with the state’s digital ID system, known as LA Wallet. The law passed in 2022 subjects adult websites to damage lawsuits and state civil penalties as high as $5,000 a day if they fail to verify that users are at least 18 years old by requiring the use of digitized, state-issued driver’s licenses or other methods.

The Associated Press reported this past October that an adult entertainment group’s lawsuit against a Louisiana law requiring sexually explicit websites to verify the ages of their viewers was dismissed by U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan in New Orleans.

Texas users are greeted with this notice.

Potential or existing Pornhub users in North Carolina and Montana are directed to a video that features adult film star Cherie DeVille, who recites a message also written under the video.

“As you may know, your elected officials in your state are requiring us to verify your age before allowing you access to our website. While safety and compliance are at the forefront of our mission, giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the most effective solution for protecting our users and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk.”

“Mandating age verification without proper enforcement gives platforms the opportunity to choose whether or not to comply,” the statement continues. “As we’ve seen in other states, this just drives traffic to sites with far fewer safety measures in place.”

“Until a real solution is offered, we have made the difficult decision to completely disable access to our website in [the aforementioned locales]” the message ends with.

The company previously blocked Utah on May 7, 2023. CNN reported at the time:

Affected users are shown a message expressing opposition to Senate Bill 287, the Utah law signed by Gov. Spencer Cox in March that creates liability for porn sites that make their content available to people below the age of 18.

“As you may know, your elected officials in Utah are requiring us to verify your age before allowing you access to our website,” the message said. “While safety and compliance are at the forefront of our mission, giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the most effective solution for protecting our users, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk.”

Courthouse News reported that after Virginia’s bill was passed in June, state Sen. L. Louise Lucas, a Democrat, criticized the state for not creating a system for age verification, and instead leaving it up to websites to manage the process, citing security risks.  

“We passed a bill during this session to protect children from online porn. However the executive branch had an obligation to create a system for age verification,” Lucas said on X, formerly Twitter. “We will continue our work to keep pornography out of the hands of minors … but we will also work to ensure that this Governor’s error does not put the privacy of Virginians at further risk.”

Beyond the U.S. in the European Union, Pornhub and two more of the world’s biggest porn websites face new requirements in the European Union that include verifying the ages of users, under the EU’s Digital Services Act.

According to a December 20 report from the Associated Press, Pornhub, XVideos and Stripchat have now been classed as “very large online platforms” subject to more stringent controls under the Digital Services Act because they each have 45 million average monthly users, according to the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch.

They are the first porn sites to be targeted by the sweeping Digital Services Act, which imposes tough obligations to keep users safe from illegal content and dodgy products, the Associated Press reported last month.

In addition to the adult entertainment websites, any violations are punishable by fines of up to 6% of global revenue or even a ban on operating in the EU. Some 19 online platforms and search engines have already been identified for stricter scrutiny under the DSA, including TikTok, Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Google and more.

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Abbott tells UN to ‘pound sand’ amid criticism of anti-LGBTQ policies in Texas

Governor signed seven anti-LGBTQ laws last year

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Texas Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs the “Save Women’s Sports Act” on Aug. 7, 2023. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Sunday dismissed news coverage of a letter issued last month to the United Nations that expressed alarm over the “deteriorating human rights situation” for LGBTQ people in the Lone Star State.

Signed by Equality Texas, ACLU of Texas, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law Human Rights Clinic, the letter details how Texas legislators introduced 141 bills targeting the LGBTQ community, passing seven into law.

“The UN can go pound sand,” Abbott wrote in a post on X.

In 2023, the governor signed a ban on gender affirming care for transgender youth, a ban on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at public universities, a ban on transgender athletes competing in college sports, a law allowing schools to use religious chaplains for counseling services, a ban on “sexually oriented performances” on public property accessible to minors (which targets drag shows), a law allowing schools to restrict LGBTQ books, and a ban on nondiscrimination ordinances by local governments.

The groups argued in their letter that these policies constitute a “systemic discriminatory policy” in violation of international human rights laws, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a multilateral treaty whose tenets are enforced by the UN Human Rights Committee.

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Houston police: Lakewood Church shooter was not transgender

Far-right extremists fueled unsubstantiated, false narratives

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Houston Police Department homicide commander Christopher Hassig briefing reporters on Feb. 12, 2024. (KHOU YouTube screenshot)

In the hours after Genesee Moreno, a 36-years-old Latina woman, entered the sanctuary of Joel Osteen’s mega Lakewood Church and opened fire with an assault rifle this past Sunday, there were multiple instances of confusion over her gender identity, in part fueled by unsubstantiated or false narratives from far-right extremists.

During a briefing with reporters yesterday, Houston Police Department homicide commander Christopher Hassig stated with absolute clarity that Moreno was not a transgender person.

“Our shooter is identified by a driver’s license as Genesee Moreno, 36-years-old, Hispanic female. There are some discrepancies. We do have reports she used multiple aliases, including Jeffrey Escalante. So she has utilized both male and female names but through all of our investigation to this point, talking with individuals, interviews, documents, Houston Police Department reports, she has identified this entire time as female,” Hassig told the media.

KHOU Jeremy Rogalski’s initial reporting as posted to X.

In initial coverage, KHOU and the Houston Chronicle reported Moreno, who had used the name Jeffery Escalante, had an extensive criminal history dating back to 2005 according to a Texas Department of Public Safety records search. Prior arrests include failure to stop and give information, assault of a public servant, assault causing bodily injury, forgery, possession of marijuana, theft, evading arrest and unlawful carrying weapon.

Media outlets including Fox News and even NBC News who later retracted a portion of their story mistakenly framed the context as “a person who previously identified as male” which led to the incorrect framing of Moreno’s gender identity.

Far-right extremist pundits and at least one anti-trans member of the U.S. House of Representatives took up the “shooter was trans” narrative.

Screenshot of Libs of TikTok far-right extremist creator Chaya Raichik’s post on the Houston shooter.

Chaya Raichik’s post had a companion extremist anti-trans X post by U. S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who republished a post by far-right media Blaze TV anchor Sara Gonzales, both falsely claiming Moreno was trans. Gonzales’ post appeared to contain a criminal record without attribution of its source.

Raichik also posted the same “criminal record” on her social media accounts.

Fox News also ran misleading and false headlines regarding Moreno’s gender identity.

Alejandra Caraballo, a trans attorney and clinical instructor at the prestigious Harvard Law Cyberlaw Clinic who also writes on gender and technology issues for Wired and Slate magazines, debunked the Fox News allegations and called out the far-right anti-trans extremists.

“Far right extremist accounts like Libs of Tiktok rushed to call the shooter at Joel Osteen’s church a transgender woman. The police have just confirmed that is not the case and she was the biological mother of the child who was shot. They won’t apologize or retract their lies,” Caraballo said.

Ari Drennen, executive director of Media Matters of America’s LGBTQ Project, cautioned Tuesday the falsehoods and fabrications are “adding fuel to a moral panic” on trans issues as multiple state legislators rush to pass anti-trans laws:

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