I don’t have time or patience for conspiracy theorists. Especially not ones who use their convoluted logic to further a right-wing agenda, something we’ve all had a front row seat to lately. The 2020 election, clearly and definitively won by Joe Biden, is a perfect example. Many conspiracies exist at the fringe, but with the 2020 election lie, former president Donald Trump, many Republicans in Congress and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni Thomas — people at (and with access to) the highest levels of power in this country — believe and push this lie. These past couple of years have essentially been a giant coming out party for people who believe truly batshit things and feel freer than ever to say those things out loud.
And look, don’t get me wrong. Conspiracies do exist. And there are many conspiracies that are based on stone cold truth. Take conspiracies involving Black Americans, for example. The United States has a very long and documented history of racist violence in all aspects of life from economic oppression (see Black Bottom in Detroit) to medical mistreatment (see the Tuskegee Syphilis Study) to revocation of liberty (see the over-policing of Black neighborhoods and the number of Black people in prison in this country) to family formation (see decades of forced sterilizations), and more. So, yeah, conspiracy theories rooted in this nation’s undeniably racist past? I can totally understand why they exist. That well of distrust is deep, and earned.
But when I hear right-wing pundit James Lindsay say that drag queens are trying to get themselves hurt or killed by “provoking” anti-LGBTQ+ folks in order to foment a nationwide protest, it’s pretty clear that he’s trying to craft a narrative in reverse. A way to justify the harm that people like him are calling for.
In an August 2022 piece, Daily Beast writer Anthony L. Fisher called Lindsay “a Trump-supporting, Big Lie-espousing, vaccine-denying, far-right bigot [who] helped popularize the ‘Ok Groomer’ epithet (and hashtag) on Twitter, feeding the right wing’s moral panic about LGBTQ teachers.”
In other words, a super cool guy.
It’s no secret that protests at drag events are getting scarier and it’s people like Lindsay, who the Daily Beast referred to as an “ anti-woke shitposter,” fanning the flames. He calls LGBTQ+ people groomers and drag queens “groomer clowns” and even called The Trevor Project a “Groomer Project posing as suicide prevention.” In a Jan. 2 tweet he called LGBTQ+ people “mentally unwell, antisocial fetishists demanding society validate their kinks.”
Lindsay recently said during a Turning Point USA panel that drag queens are deliberately provoking anti-LGBTQ+ people in the hopes to create “Drag Floyd,” a reference to the murder of George Floyd that is both homophobic and racist. (Fun fact: Lindsay says that teaching about racism will result in white genocide. So, yeah, he’s racist.)
“And the goal is to get you to give in so they get their way or overreact.” Lindsay says, “And that’s where I say ‘Drag Floyd,’ it’s so important to understand that they want a drag queen to get attacked, and they want to make a huge amount of hay of it, and they want to create summer 2020 again off of a drag queen or a trans person or something like this.”
Worth noting that Lindsay doesn’t appear to know the difference between drag performers and trans people. Drag queens are artists and entertainers. While some of them are trans, I would venture to say that most aren’t.
He calls this diabolical plan an “unconventional warfare tactic to provoke” and assures us he is “deadly serious.”
On Dec. 27 he tweeted, “A 2023 goal of mine, one among many very ambitious ones, is to make Queer Theory as visible and comprehensible, and therefore as hated, as Critical Race Theory to the American public.” In other words, his goal is to engineer right-wing panic about anything LGBTQ+ in our kids’ schools using something that can only be found as part of university level curriculum.
With the Club Q shooting still fresh in everyone’s minds, it’s unconscionable that anyone would be cheerleading for more violence against LGBTQ+ people. But that’s exactly what Lindsay is doing. And he’s using his twisted conspiracy theory to preemptively deflect blame. The “horrible tragedy” he claims is coming is something he wants. Don’t let him get away with saying otherwise.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.