MoSH opens up about drag show cancellation

MoSH opens up about cancelation of drag show
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 6:46 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2022 at 6:11 AM CDT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The head of the Museum of Science and History, also known as MoSH, is opening up about the protest that prompted him to shut down a family-friendly drag show.

Hundreds came to Central Avenue Friday night to support the end of a summer-long exhibit celebrating the Memphis LGBTQ-plus community.

But it all came to an end when armed protesters, The Proud Boys, showed up.

“We’re fine with protesters here and over at an event,” Kevin Thompson, executive director of MoSH, said. “[But] it needs to be a civil discourse, not armed militia, there’s a difference in that.”

Thompson responded Monday to Friday night’s decision to cancel what was supposed to be a family-friendly drag show and dance party.

Those plans, Thompson says, were derailed when armed Proud Boys protesters showed up at the museum.

“During our event on Friday night, we had armed folks show up and with military-grade type weapons,” Thompson said. That was a no-brainer, we had 290 people who chose their Friday night here at MoSH, and they did not come to protest a militia, they came to enjoy the programming that we have here.”

Patrons were asked to leave the event while protesters stood by with Memphis police on site to keep the peace.

According to Thompson, MoSH does not allow weapons inside its museums. But a different set of rules governs the grounds.

“We don’t allow them inside the building, but on the property, we don’t have restrictions on that,” he said. “Now, of course, any time you go through something like this, we’re reviewing a lot of our policies; this is the first time we’ve ever had something like this happen at the museum - so we’re going to take time to review and see what we can learn from it.”

Thompson says Friday’s decision to cancel the event was about safety, but he understands why some upset patrons and performers were forced out while protestors were not.

“That’s an area we really need to review and see what things we can put in place, to do things differently down the road,” Thompson said.

Memphis Police say they made no arrests after Friday’s protest.

The museum says it’s too early to make a decision on whether to reschedule the event.

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