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Port: Fun police try to call the actual police on Fargo drag show

Jul 02, 2023Jul 02, 2023

FARGO — I was aggrieved earlier this summer when the Fargo-Moorhead Pride planning committee announced that, in light of the palpable hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community from our state Legislature, they would be moving some of their annual celebration events across the Red River to Minnesota.

I'm heterosexual, so these events aren't about me, but I have a deep and abiding love for North Dakota, and it offends me on a personal level that any group of law-abiding citizens would be made to feel unwelcome in this wonderful place.

Thankfully, the FM Pride folks decided to hold some events on the western side of the Red River, including a family-friendly drag show last weekend at the Red River Market in Fargo.

Naturally, this offended certain moralizing busybodies who are addled by the belief that society must conform to their strident, puritanical mores. Specifically, in this instance, their antipathy toward anyone who isn't heterosexual.

Angry denunciations were rampant on social media and, per a report from WDAY Radio News, some of these deluded bozos tried to argue that a new state law should have proscribed the performance.


With regard to the law, one might excuse these modern-day Savonarolas for believing North Dakota has a law outlawing drag shows on public property. That's certainly how state Rep. Brandon Prichard, R-Bismarck, the primary sponsor of House Bill 1333 earlier this year, portrayed his efforts.

But Prichard, a Charlie Kirk lookalike just a few years removed from high school, is a huckster in the mold of disgraced former President Donald Trump. When it comes to policy, he prefers form over function, even if it means putting one over on his supporters.

His legislation doesn't ban drag shows on public property. The text of the version of the bill which passed and was enrolled as state law outlaws only "adult-orientated" performances in which the entertainers put their naughty bits on display or engage in sexual conduct, none of which happened in Fargo this last weekend. At least, not at the Red River Market.

I should point out that even the original text of Prichard's bill, which did not become law, wouldn't have covered this recent drag performance.

According to the WDAY Radio report, Attorney General Drew Wrigley showed no interest in taking this matter on when reached for comment, directing inquiries to local officials. There doesn't seem to be any sort of local law enforcement investigation, which is a fine thing, because our cops have more important things to spend their finite resources on.

Some drag performances can be very sexual and intended to titillate, but they don't have to be that way. Many drag shows, and in particular those intended for a family audience, are just a lot of singing and dancing and jokes and campy costumes.

I've gone to a drag show with my teenage daughter and my wife. It's not really my thing — my musical inclinations run more toward Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash — but I had a few good laughs, and I can understand the appeal. I certainly didn't think any part of the performance was inappropriate for my family. Certainly not any more than a traditional Shakespearean performance, with men and boys playing the female roles in addition to the male roles.

But that's my judgment, as a parent, and I understand if it isn't yours. I can understand why some people may think a drag show is a bit too ribald for themselves, or their children, for the same reason why different families may have different views on which movies and music are family-appropriate.


My values aren't yours. Yours aren't mine.

The thing is, attending a drag show is optional. Nobody is forcing you to go. If you don't like drag shows, then don't attend them, and certainly don't take your family.

But you have no business imposing your preferences on others, and you certainly don't have the right to make others feel unwelcome in our great state which, I would remind you, belongs to all of us.