City Council meeting draws those in favor of Middletown Pride event, drag show

One resident: ‘Drag is not a crime. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.’

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

MIDDLETOWN — After graphic pictures of a drag show that was part of Middletown’s Pride event were posted on social media, some people called for future drag shows to be cancelled or held out of view of children.

In response to those opinions, nine pro-LGBT residents spoke positively about the Pride event during the citizen comment portion of last week’s City Council meeting.

Pastor John Williams, who once was arrested at a Middletown Pride event for using a powered megaphone, a violation of a city ordinance, was the lone person who spoke against the drag show.

Some said the pictures that were posted on social media were no more revealing than those from a gymnastics meet or cheerleading competition.

T. Duane Gordon, former executive director of the Middletown Community Foundation, said he attended the drag show with his two children he shares with his husband, Matthew Dixon. He saw nothing “inappropriate, lewd or obscene” during the drag show, he told council members.

He said there were about 100 minors in the audience and it’s “not the job of the complainers to tell us how to raise our children.”

Candice Keller, executive director of the Community Pregnancy Center and a former state representative, sent a letter to Middletown Police Chief David Birk on June 26, three days after the Pride event. She wrote that she was making a police report to spotlight what she called ‘a violation of obscenity laws.”

She wrote that the Pride event is an “affront to the decency of our community and I am appalled at the failure of our city leaders to understand the vile behavior on display, as well as the depravity of the performers directed at destroying the innocence of our children.”

Birk has told the Journal-News that he checked with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office, Butler County Children Services and juvenile detectives and they told him laws were not broken during the Pride event and drag show.

While never mentioning Candice Keller, Gordon called out her family.

He said the Kellers “put Middletown on the map, but it’s not a map we want to be on. It’s a hate map. We don’t want Keller clan hate in our community.”

Mary Johnson, a Pride committee member, said it’s important to protect the First Amendment.

“Drag is not a crime,” she said. “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Don’t try to take away other people’s rights to watch drag shows or their parental right to decide what their children should or should not watch. Don’t let the lies tear us apart. A few people with extreme views are trying to divide us and make parents afraid of a marginalized community.”

Diane Minnichweber, of Fairfield, said she’s a retired social worker who worked at Butler County Children Services for seven years. Some have said that drag shows attract pedophiles, but Minnichweber said that’s not true because pedophiles take advantage of a child’s trust.

“A drag show has noting to do with a relation with children,” she said. “It’s not grooming children toward any kind of sexual abuse.”

Williams, the last to speak during citizen comments, said he has protested at numerous Pride events around the country.

He urged the city to stop future Pride events.

“Please protect the children,” he said.

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