Local drag show canceled following community concerns and threats

The Landing Spot drag show, which was set to occur at the Roseville High School theater, has prompted community controversy.


Courtesy of @faye.king.it on Instagram

Iris Omega performs at the Landing Spot’s April drag show. Omega was the host for the show.

A drag show hosted by the Landing Spot, a non-religious LGBTQ peer support group in connection to Loomis Basin Church, has been canceled after an outburst of public criticism from community members.

The event, which was set to occur on Mar. 31 at Roseville High School’s theater, was originally approved by the district, but following comments from religious policy group, the American Council, and Destiny Church Lead Pastor Greg Fairrington, the district received more than 2000 emails showing concern over the event, leading to it reconsidering and ultimately rescinding the Landing Spot’s facilities reservations. 

The civic permit submitted by the Landing Spot did not accurately describe the type of fundraising event they planned. Social media marketing promoted the event as a drag show and encouraged attendees to bring cash to tip minors during the performance,” Board President Pete Constant wrote to the Gazette. “The social media promotion caused many members of the public to believe the event was sponsored or hosted by RHS and/or the district.”

During the event review process, the RJUHSD administration was in contact with representatives from the Landing Spot, who indicated that the organization had been receiving threats.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires that RJUHSD provides activities and services that do not discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and gender expression.

The Landing Spot’s previous drag show was hosted in April. (Courtesy of @faye.king.it on Instagram)

Constant says that the district’s decision was not targeting the Landing Spot for its connection to the LGBTQ+ community. The district has collaborated with the Landing Spot in the past.

Our district’s response would have been the same if this was a burlesque show or a Chippendale (or Magic Mike) style show featuring heterosexual performers and audience. The simple fact is this type of show featuring minor students with an adult, cash-tipping audience is not appropriate on our school grounds” Constant wrote. “The event may not have been appropriate for a school facility, however, this does not impact our collaborative relationship with the Landing Spot and the support they can offer to RJUHSD families.”

The Landing Spot has hosted two drag shows in the past, with the aim of raising money to send kids to Camp Fruit Loop, a camp for LGBTQ youth.

Casey Tinnin, the pastor of Loomis Basin Church and the founder of the Landing Spot, was not available for comment, but a representative of the Landing Spot says they are experiencing both threats and community support.

In a press release on Feb. 24, President of the American Council Tanner DiBella encouraged the American Council’s community network, including the NorCal Freedom Alliance and Moms for Liberty, to voice their concerns to the school administration.

“Drag should not be an underage activity on a high school campus,” DiBella wrote in the press release. “Allowing an event that encourages students under 18 to dress up in provocative clothing, dance in front of adults and get tips shoved in their clothing is not a healthy expression of sexuality, maturity or safety. We want children to be happy, healthy and safe.”

Drag should not be an underage activity on a high school campus … We want children to be happy, healthy and safe.

— Tanner DiBella, President of the American Council

In an interview with the Gazette, DiBella clarified his position.

“It’s our belief that the government has two responsibilities: restrain evil and promote good,” DiBella said. “I do believe that legislation that would protect children from being exposed to certain activities is appropriate.”

Two days after the American Council’s press release, Pastor Greg Fairrington criticized the Landing Spot’s drag show during a sermon, saying that “Looming Basin Community Church is sponsoring a drag queen event, promoting it to minors and encouraging minors to bring dollar bills to tip the dancers.”

That’s the problem with modern Christianity. We don’t want to offend anybody. We don’t want to be political in our pulpits, and I get criticized for being political.” Fairrington said. “I want to tell you something. I’m not political. I’m biblical, and I’m standing up for Christians in our territory.”

Vinnie, who preferred to go only by their first name, offers a different perspective.

Vinnie is an artist who has attended and performed at the Landing Spot’s previous drag shows. They graduated from Adelante High School last year. 

“People in general, not just in religious communities, have this idea in their heads that drag is a fetish. I’m sure they mean well. I wouldn’t wanna fetishize kids either,” Vinne said. “But someone seriously has to tell these guys it’s an art form, not a fetish … Drag is always changing and is never just one thing, just like art. Of course, kids shouldn’t be dressing in provocative clothing, but we as adults don’t need to be showing and shoving the idea that drag is only a fetish down people’s throats.” 

I’m not religious, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to love everyone.

— Vinnie, artist

Vinnie says that their experience at the Landing Spot’s previous drag show was positive and that “everyone there was really accepting and nice.”

Despite the recent events and comments, they are hopeful that there will be a change in the perception of drag queens in the religious community.

“There are a lot of religious queens who aren’t accepted by churches because of their jobs,” Vinnie said. “I’m not religious, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to love everyone.”

According to a national survey conducted by the Trevor Project in 2022, 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous year.

“It’s important for people from the outside looking in to see that drag queens are people and not a threat,” Vinnie said.

The Landing Spot’s Instagram post, announcing the event’s cancellation, received a number of negative comments, some of which accused the Landing Spot and its defenders of being “pedophiles” and “groomers.” 

The Landing Spot’s Instagram post announcing the cancelation of its drag show (above). (Courtesy of @landingspotpc on Instagram)

But DiBella stresses that he has never advocated for violence or harassment towards any group. 

Following the cancellation of the Landing Spot’s drag show, DiBella received a death threat, where according to DiBella, a caller threatened to “find and kill (him).”

“I think I’ve made myself really clear that I have deep respect and love for these individuals, both the organizers of the event and the attendees of the event, and making a moral statement on this does not incite violence,” DiBella said. “Whenever you have something controversial like this, there’s always a possibility that you have people that are misguided and, quite frankly, crazy that … do things that are incredibly inappropriate.”

The board meeting following the cancellation of the Landing Spot’s event was hosted at West Park High School and featured a range of testimonies concerning the board’s action. 

During the public comment section, which lasted more than an hour and a half, community member Michelle Derby thanked the board for canceling the event.

“This is not a strip club. It’s a high school, and I’ll be damned if my daughters are there,” Derby said to the board. “Under the age of 18, you are not paying bills, you are not an adult, you are not responsible enough to know what’s right or wrong … So I appreciate the work you have done.”

Among the detractors of the board’s decision was Cynthia Davis, a retired science teacher from the Roseville City School District.

The Mar. 9 board meeting was hosted at West Park High School. A number of community members protested and applauded the board’s decision to cancel the Landing Spot’s event.

“They claim that drag shows sexualize and indoctrinate children. This seems ludicrous to me,” Davis said to the board. “Today, event spaces like the Roseville High School theater are rented for child beauty pageants where little girls are dressed in provocative clothing and hairstyles … Today, girls at school dance shows wear provocative clothing and dance in a sexualized way. Today, high school and college cheerleaders, gymnasts, volleyball players and swimmers wear leotards and bathing suits that leave very little to the imagination. Why are these students allowed to participate in their chosen activity, but not LGBTQ+ students?”

Reverend Alex da Silva Souto of the Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalists also spoke out against the decision for taking away Landing Spot’s means of fundraising for Camp Fruit Loop. 

“Many of these students are terrorized on a daily basis simply because they are truthful and honest about who they are … These students were looking forward to a refuge this summer, and by the grace of God and community support, we will make sure that they will have a summer break from institutionalized transphobia, homophobia and other forms of discrimination,” Souto said to the board.

In lieu of its drag show, the Landing Spot is accepting online donations.