This week’s news from the heartland of America comes from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where key influencers such as Phillips 66 and State Farm Insurance, along with a smattering of others, recently decided that the most important thing this conservative little town of 40,000 people needed was a “family friendly” drag queen show in a public park.
Here’s the backstory.
On Sept. 10, the nonprofit Oklahomans for Equality, along with the support of the benefactors mentioned above, hosted a “pride” festival at a venue known as Unity Park next to Bartlesville Community Center. The event included multiple activities, not the least of which were performances by several drag queens — otherwise known as adult men who get their kicks out of dressing up in knee-high leather boots, fishnet stockings, leotards, sequenced capes, and makeup that would make even Tammy Faye Baker blush. This show was promoted as “family-friendly” and came complete with bouncy toys and even opportunities for children to give dollar bills to the “performers” as they danced and cavorted in front of the children.
Now at this point, you might be saying to yourself, “OK, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of this happening in San Francisco, Seattle or New York, but Oklahoma? Surely not! How in the world did the local folks react?”
Well, react they did. In fact, some younger parents (millennials) started a petition that received over 2,200 signatures in support. And what was their request? In short, this remnant of good moms and dads made it clear that they still believe it’s wrong for a grown man to dress in size 14 pumps and a thong to shake his half-exposed butt in front of their 8-year-old children. So, in this context, they proceeded to request that such “adult” behavior be restricted to private locations and that the City Council enforce existing ordinances that explicitly say anyone who behaves “lewdly in any public place … is offensive to decency … [and] is guilty of an offense against the City of Bartlesville, Oklahoma.”
In other words, what the petitioners were asking for was pretty simple. To paraphrase their petition, they were basically saying: “If you get your jollies out of this type of nonsense, then have at it, but do so in private and not in public. Keep your private life where it belongs and away from our children. We take our children to the park to watch the ducks, not to watch you grinding to Shania Twain’s ‘I Feel Like a Woman.’”
Now you’d think in “conservative” Oklahoma that the “conservative” city leaders would respond favorably to what, until about five minutes ago, was considered basic common sense, wouldn’t you? Well, think again.
Consider the mayor, a Republican who, when asked by the over 2,000 petitioners to enforce the standing decency laws of the community: said: “‘Lewd’ and ‘lascivious’ are somewhat subjective terms. Who shall be the arbiter of lewdness? One person’s weed is another person’s beautiful flower. Who’s correct legally?”
One person’s weed is another person’s beautiful flower? Are you serious? This “Republican” leader just watched a party in the park that bordered on sexual predation, and he won’t go out on a limb and call it “lewd”? And moreover, he apparently can’t bring himself to say that this garbage is anything but “family-friendly” ?
This kind of equivocation — dare I say, cowardice? — is rife across the heartland. Our message to our local officials should be loud and clear: Do your dang job! Enforce the law and stop cowering every time these cultural bullies kick sand in your face. Grow a spine and do what we’ve elected you to do.
I close with a voice of such courage from one of the most unlikely places. Hear the words of Brittany Mayer of Encinitas, California:
“I’d just like to know what it is that makes a drag show family-friendly. You can slap family-friendly titles on anything. You can have a family-friendly gentleman’s club. A family-friendly strip club. Family-friendly 50 Shades of Gray. What is it about a grown man costumed in a sparkly bra with augmented boobs busting out, with a leather miniskirt barely covering his twerking a—, with tuck-tape on his front, while spreading his fish-netted legs as he writhes on the ground grinding his groins next to a minor, family-friendly? You’ve been caught with your sparkling panties down. While we have a culture that has a massive problem with child porn and sex trafficking, you decided to feature an event that sexualizes young children. Do you want to know that there is a word that describes [what you’ve done]? It’s groomer! You all played the activist pimp for our children. You’ve all stepped out of line. You should be ashamed. There’s nothing loving [about this] because the logical conclusion of [what you’ve done] is diabolical evil. There are boundaries, and you don’t slap family friendly on this stuff to cover you’re a—.”
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host.