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GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, is responding alongside local community leaders in Oklahoma 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.
“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,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said. “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 and local leaders respond to act of hate
A fundraiser that had been created to cover repairs saw a surge in donations after the second attack, raising over $20,000 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.
“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,” The Black Wall Street Times managing editor Deon Osborne said. “If left unchecked, these violent acts against marginalized people will continue.”
No protections for LGBTQ + Okahomans
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.
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.
“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,” Nicole McAfee, Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma, said in a statement.
Hatred against drag queen events
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.
“Tulsa is a growing progressive community and attitudes of this nature do not push us forward, they push us back,” Queer Black Tulsa found and executive director Daniel McHenry said. “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.”
“There are hundreds of LGBTQ+ affirming businesses that intentionally embrace the community across this city actively investing in our Queer and Trans family,” added Luke Scuitto, Membership Coordinator at Equality Business Alliance in Tulsa. “Because Tulsans do not have nondiscrimination protections in public accommodations, it is critical that businesses explicitly commit to inclusivity.”
“Speak out and show solidarity”
“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,” Joshua Payton, Esq., Founder of the Oklahoma Equality Law Center said.
GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Index details how tech platforms have failed to rein in rising anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and hate onlines.
“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,” Ellis said.