SOLANA BEACH — A “threat of undisclosed violence” on social media that led to the cancelation of a drag show fundraiser on Tuesday at the Belly Up in Solana Beach is now being investigated by the FBI’s Terrorism Unit, law enforcement officials confirmed.
The annual Disney Drag Takeover Benefit show is the largest fundraiser for the Oceanside-based Pride by the Beach, organized by the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, which partners with the Solana Beach music venue for the show.
Just hours before the start of Tuesday night’s show, law enforcement and event organizers learned of a video containing unspecified threats of violence. According to sheriff’s Lt. Christopher Lawrence, the video mentioned the Belly Up and the date and time corresponding with the drag show.
Organizers made the decision to cancel the show, and the sheriff’s bomb arson team searched the venue but did not find anything of concern, Lawrence said.
“It didn’t come in necessarily as a bomb threat — it came in as a threat of undisclosed violence,” Lawrence told The Coast News. “We took precautions, just because of current events in the nation and the world, to utilize our bomb arson team and our explosives-sniffing dogs to make sure the venue was free of any items.”
The Sheriff’s Department confirmed the FBI is now handling the investigation. The Coast News has reached out to the San Diego FBI field office for comment.
Roxanne Deatherage, Pride director at North County LGBTQ Resource Center, said the queens were already en route to the show when the organization was made aware of the threat. Around 350 people had purchased tickets, and the show was expected to bring in $10,000 to go toward the Pride by the Beach event in June.
Belly Up and the center ultimately decided to cancel to keep attendees, venue staff and performers safe.
“It was a hard decision to make. We never want people to think their hate can control us and stop us from being who we are, but safety is our number one priority,” Deatherage said. “It was heartbreaking.”
North County LGBTQ Resource Center will work with the Belly Up and the show’s entertainers to reschedule the event, but no date has been chosen yet, she said.
“It will happen, and it will be bigger and better and stronger, and the show will go on,” Deatherage said.
Drag shows have been the latest target of conservative criticism over the past two years, with an increase in protests, threats and attacks against drag performances and other LGBTQIA+ establishments, as well as anti-drag legislation in several states.
Tennessee passed a law in early March prohibiting “adult cabaret” performances, including those by drag queens, in public places where minors could watch. Similar laws have been introduced in Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho and Texas.
Anti-drag sentiments have also found their place locally. In October, community members showed up in droves to an Encinitas Union School District meeting to protest the district’s decision to share an online flier advertising a family-friendly Halloween drag show in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood.
In addition, the proliferation of mass shootings, including an incident on Monday at a Tennessee elementary school that left three students and three adults dead, also brought the threats close to home for organizers.
“It was scary knowing what happened a few days ago. It’s very fresh in all of our brains and all of our hearts,” Deatherage said. “Our community is strong, and we’re ready to keep going — this isn’t gonna stop us.”
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