Alberta theatre cancels drag show featuring child performers
Alberta theatre cancels drag show featuring child performers

An Alberta theatre says its cancellation of a drag show that featured children had nothing to do with the content of the performance.

Dragging Youth, an organization that stages “family friendly all age drag shows,” claimed that a representative of Manluk Theatre in Wetaskiwin, Alta., accused the organization of “grooming” kids.

“The board of the Manluk Theatre decided to cancel the show after signing a contract promoting the show and selling tickets. This decision is based on an uneducated, short-minded, intolerant ideology that an all aged drag show with youth performances ‘grooms’ queer sexuality (their words) and lifestyle in kids and other youth,” said Dragging Youth in a Facebook post.

Manluk Theatre released a statement Wednesday saying it cancelled the show for technical reasons.

“Given the associated requirements of theatre production, including a dedicated team of volunteers and technical staff, the outlook for success was in question,” the venue said.

Following the decision to cancel, a theatre board member attended a Dragging Youth event and spoke positively of the experience, according to the statement.

As for the “grooming” accusation, the theatre said this was a misunderstanding.

Theatre staff became aware of a social media post where a community member said that drag shows are used for “sexual grooming of kids.”

In response, the venue contacted Dragging Youth and asked, “How would you respond to a person who says the drag shows are ‘sexual grooming of kids?’”

“These words from social media are being falsely ascribed to the (theatre), and do not represent the position of the board,” the statement said. “The Wetaskiwin Theatre Society remains committed to working with, educating, and respecting all sectors of our community.”

The group Dragging Youth pleaded with people to email, phone, and send letters to Manluk Theatre, “sharing your disgust at them.”

Dragging Youth provided the contact information of the theatre that they labelled as “homophobic.”

“What Dragging Youth does literally saves lives!” said the organization. 

A drag queen group held a story hour in Winnipeg last year for children. The same group, “The House of Hex,” posted pictures on their public social media accounts featuring bondage gear, horns, and frightening makeup. 

Protests across Canada have occurred in response to sexualized drag queen performances being offered to children.

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