Tri-Cities citizens urge city council members to keep children from drag shows – Part Two

All ages drag shows support and protests in Richland.
Supporters and protesters outside of The Emerald of Siam in Richland. (Credit: Johanna Bejarano / NWPB)



Drag shows in the Tri-Cities have come under protest. Some argue children shouldn’t be allowed into events that have been planned with children in mind. And the issue has even spilled over into local city council meetings.

Protestors lined the street outside a recent Disney-themed drag in Pasco. In Richland, supporters and protesters displayed signs during an Easter drag brunch this weekend.

Organizers said performers lip-synched to all-age music, wearing bright and colorful costumes. They said the family-friendly event was meant to teach kids about acceptance.

But demonstrators said kids shouldn’t be allowed in to drag shows. Some people have started bringing the issue up during local public comment periods.

At a recent Richland City Council meeting, a woman who identified herself as Bree expressed her concerns.

“We’re asking that these drag queen shows remain for adult entertainment in our community for the well-being and safety of the children in our communities,” she said. “I’m not after banning drag queen shows. I think adults, consenting adults, have the ability to choose what they’d like to be involved in.”

Tim Thornton is the general manager at The Emerald of Siam. The Emerald recently hosted a drag brunch. He told city council members his business has hosted family-friendly drag events for years with broad public support.

“Now we have a group that wants to decide for others what constitutes appropriate for family entertainment and [is] using harassment [and] intimidation to enforce their tastes.”

Mayor Pro Tem Theresa Richardson said during the meeting she has received many calls expressing concerns on the issue.

“I’ve been encouraging people to send a note to The Emerald of Siam, a polite note just expressing that you’re sad about doing that,” said Richardson.

But Thornton said this encouraged harassment of his business. 

Another citizen, who didn’t provide his name in public comment, told the Franklin County Commission at a regular meeting in Pasco that he doesn’t want drag shows targeting children.

Andrea Wabaunsee organized the family-friendly drag show at Out And About in Pasco. Wabaunsee said drag shows are an art form.

“Just like any other form of entertainment, it can be gauged to any audience level. Some movies are gauged specifically for adults to watch, and some movies are gauged specifically for kids to watch. That’s exactly how a drag show can work,” said Wabaunsee.

She also said drag performers are not going to let people strip away their First Amendment rights.

More stories in this series:

Part Three: Drag show protests throughout Tri-Cities lead to death threat, vandalism

Part One: Drag shows face protests in the Tri-Cities