“You have watched the Queens and Kings and now it is time to see the Kids,” read an ad for the event, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday.
“A drag show like none other the Drag Kids range from ages 11-18 and are ready to bring it all to the Boise Pride Festival stage! Come and cheer them on as they bring drag to the younger generation!”
Idaho Republican Party chair Dorothy Moon condemned the event, calling it an “attack on Idaho’s children.”
“Out-of-state companies promise to bring investment and jobs to Idaho. Instead, they are financing the sexualization of our children and the perverse idea that children should engage in sexual performances with adult entertainers,” Moon wrote in a statement released Wednesday.
Instead of sponsoring the Boise Pride Festival, Moon said, individuals and businesses that wish to take advantage of Idaho’s tax benefits and subsidies should take their sponsoring dollars to the Boise Rescue Mission, a Christian charity that operates a network of women’s and children’s shelters.
“Children should be given the chance to live out a childhood free from violence, hunger, and the sexual appetites of adults,” she added.
In response, Zions Bank withdrew its sponsorship of the pride festival.
Zions Bank, a Salt Lake City-based company founded by Brigham Young and formerly owned by the LDS Church, said it had supported “a variety” of LGBTQ pride events over the years, but didn’t realize this particular event would involve children.
“When we committed to our sponsorship of this year’s Boise Pride event, we were unaware of the event’s activities involving children/minors,” the bank claimed in a statement announcing the withdrawal. “Since learning of these specific activities, we have made the decision to withdraw our participation in this year’s Boise Pride event and have communicated this to the event organizers.”
Some other high-profile companies, including Wells Fargo, Jack Daniels, Citibank, and Target, are also called upon to cancel their sponsorship.
Despite the inherently sexual nature of drag performances, the pride event’s organizer insists that the “drag kids” show has nothing to do with sexualizing children.
“The drag kids performance is a celebration of self-expression and confidence. The only perversion and sexualization of this performance are coming from extremists and people like Dorothy Moon, who are twisting it into something it is not,” Boise Pride said in response to the backlash.
“Minors have participated in the Boise Pride Festival both on and off stage for many years,” Boise Pride said. “Pride and inclusivity do not begin at age 18.”
Idaho Democratic Party also affirmed its support of the event, accusing the Republicans of promoting “hateful” rhetoric.
“In the face of hateful rhetoric, bullying and extremism, Idaho Democrats are not intimidated, we are resolute,” it said. “We support the Boise Pride Festival and its celebration of diversity and inclusion. Idaho Democrats will continue to fight for the right of every Idahoan to be proud, love openly and live authentically.”