A hate group's influence in Tucson

The Reid Park Zoo cancelled a Pride event at the request of a LGBTQ+ group aligned with recognized hate groups.

A hate group's influence in Tucson
Screenshot from The Gays Against Groomers-Arizona X page boasting about cancelling drag at a Pride event in Tucson's Reid Park Zoo.

Early this past June, the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson planned to host a Pride night open to the public. On its invite page, the zoo said it was going to have opportunities for youth and their parents to "search for the whole rainbow of colors," and there would be "incredible performances" by three local drag queens.

But a week later, the zoo quietly removed the mention of any drag, and told the three performers that they wouldn't be working the event due to security reasons. Specifically , there were "threats to the staff and animals," according to Isis. D. Frost, one of the drag performers who was slated to perform.

The other two performers, Kriss Dikay and Roxi Starr, both confirmed that the zoo told them there were threats made against them and they cancelled the event.

Online, the group Gays Against Groomers-Arizona took credit for the change. The local chapter is part of a national LGBTQ+ group aligned with other hate groups such as Moms for Liberty, or far-right political groups like Turning Point USA.

The organization is made up of almost exclusively Republicans, and have built a reputation on calling members within their community pedophiles for performing drag in public. When confronted on the threats to staff or animal safety, Robert Wallace, the local chapter leader, said it wasn't coming from his group and denounced any violence.

Neither the zoo nor Wallace would offer up the email chain sent by GAG that influenced why the zoo canceled its drag performance. Which makes it questionable on who is telling the truth: did the zoo, indeed, get threats to their safety, or did they just not want bad press from far-right news outlets, considering GAG's social media reach?

However it played out between the two, the victims in this story are the drag performers who not only lost a job, but continue to be the punching bag for our community.

Larry Cook, who performs as Roxi Starr, said he was unaware that the group was responsible for his performance being cancelled. After reviewing Wallace's statement as well as the zoo's public response, he said he understood why the zoo cancelled, but didn't feel that they stood up for them. He said that it's time the community stood up for itself more publicly.

When performer Kriis DiKay was shown the posts made by Gays Against Groomers that praised their efforts to remove the show, it was upsetting, but noticed that it could spark action.

"I was not aware of the bragging, which can easily push us to a movement," DiKay said.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to LOOKOUT .

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.

LOOKOUT Publications is a federally recognized nonprofit news outlet. EIN Number:92-3129757