Attendees react to MOSH drag show canceled by protest

MOSH drag show canceled by protest.
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 10:29 PM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The family-friendly drag show scheduled at the Memphis Museum of Science and History Friday night was canceled moments before it started at the Pink Palace Museum.

There were a handful of protestors with signs, and one man with a bullhorn, far outnumbered by Memphis Police Department. But when The Proud Boys showed up, the drag show was over.

With religious protestors calling them sinners and The Proud Boys lining up outside the door with black masks covering their faces, The Memphis Proud Drag Show and Dance Party got canceled moments before it was supposed to start at 7 p.m.

“I’m disappointed in Memphis, I am,” performer Siaren Moss told Action News 5, “I just wish people were more knowledgeable and accepting. I do.”

“It’s particularly disappointing,” said a young woman from out of state who came to Memphis to see the show, “I feel like when we do things that cancel, it kind of reinvigorates these groups to continue the work that they’re doing with intimidating people.” The Memphis Museum of Science and History hosted a Summer of Pride program celebrating the LGTBQ+ community. The drag show billed as “family-friendly” was supposed to be the grand culmination. Susan Gray and her husband expressed their disapproval by displaying signs next to the American Flag on their car that read “Strippers and Kids – NO!” and “Adult entertainment for kids – NO!” “Why does it bother you when someone else brings their own children to see this performance?” Action News 5 asked them.

“It’s child abuse. I don’t care who does it, it’s wrong,” Susan Gray replied, “this is nudity, sex acts, and simulated sex acts, and it’s wrong. It’s hurtful.”

Organizer Barbie Wyre asked MPD, “Why are you telling people to leave when no one asked you to tell them to leave?”

The MPD lieutenant in charge of the scene told her, “We’re not telling people to leave. We’re telling people to exit the parking lot. It was not our decision to shut the museum down.”

Wyre said she’s heartbroken the show won’t go on and angry that MOSH and MPD didn’t stand up to protestors.

“There’s an entire exhibit in there about the history of police removing queer people from spaces, of a country that doesn’t want us to exist, of a culture that does not want us to exist. So tonight proves we’re still living as a part of that history,” said Wyre.

After rumors circulated that Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland ordered the cancellation of the drag show, some of the performers and their fans staged a protest of their own in front of the Mayor’s East Memphis house.

Late Friday, MOSH sent Action News 5 a statement:

“The safety of our guests and staff members is our primary concern. Out of an abundance of caution and to ensure the safety of all present, the Museum of Science & History made the decision to cancel all programming Friday evening due to the presence of armed protesters. Closing early involved the cancellation of the two events scheduled for the evening, a laser show in our Planetarium and the Memphis Proud drag show and dance party.

We want to apologize to our guests and the Memphis community for the disruption. Attendees needing refunds can contact our box office or email”

A MoSH spokesperson said more than 100 people bought tickets to the event.

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