For any questions or concerns regarding this statement or the information included therein, or to request a conversation with a Director, please contact us here.
On Wednesday September 14, 2022 the TGM team became aware of an article published by the Denton Record-Chronicle highlighting the increased threat of violence at Queer-community events. In this article, Glitterbomb was named as an example of a long-standing event that might be at heightened risk, while another event was alluded to (in the same paragraph) without being named, due to “fears of violence.” Glitterbomb and its parent company were not notified of this publication nor given the opportunity to decline to be named.
This article also described Denton Mayor Gerard Hudspeth’s recent comments seeking to reclassify venues that host drag or other queer-related shows as “sexually explicit businesses” based on zoning laws, offering the clear implication that government leaders condone the efforts to eradicate our community events.
Upon reading the article, the Glitterbomb leadership team made contact with the newspaper to request a redaction of our name in the article. On Thursday, September 15th 2022, the editor of the Denton Record-Chronicle denied the request due to a “decades long policy” that prohibits them from editing articles unless to “correct an inaccuracy or misunderstanding.” Additionally, the DRC requested physical evidence or proof about our concerns before being willing to discuss the issue further.
At present, acts of violence and aggression against our community due to our LGBTQIA+ identities are quite high, and the failure of government leaders to adequately address domestic terrorism threats worsens the risks considerably. Glitterbomb has received threats, harassment, and attempts to interfere with our show since the first day we opened in 2015 – much of that harassment has been public, but there has been much more in private. We have been dealing with this the whole time – and it is alarming that instead of getting better, it’s getting worse. Our cast, crew, staff, and audiences are the heart and soul of our work, and we do our best to create the safest environment possible. Unfortunately, the increase in visible threats as well as the increase in veiled, anonymous, and covert threats, makes the task of protecting our community so much harder.
Given the overt, visible, and documented threats occurring in Denton, across Texas, and around the country, the lack of support from our community leaders, and the significant limitations we have with regard to security resources, we determined on Thursday that the safest decision would be to cancel the show for the evening and reschedule to a later date. Our team needs time to meet with venue owners as well as our staff and network of resources to create a stronger security plan in response to the current issues. Additionally, we need to cautiously assess the risks, both from domestic terrorism as well as goverment intrustion, so that we can make the best decisions moving forward.
We feel it is important to emphasize that missing a show is more than a missed night out – our cast and crew are working professionals who give their heart and soul to the community, and they count on our shows for their income. We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support and love from our community in response to yesterday’s decision. Thanks to their financial support, we are still able to pay salaries to our cast and crew members who were impacted by the show’s cancellation yesterday.
While this is a small moment to celebrate the love we received, we are still acutely aware of how this cancellation can and has caused a longer-term impact on our team. Working as contractors, as full-time or even part-time entertainers, is a difficult vocation to navigate full of payment delays, lack of guaranteed pay or benefits such as PTO or medical coverage, and of course, last-minute and/or emergency cancellations. Additionally, the lack of opportunities to receive in-person tips through unique audience engagement, as well as the labor commitment to prepare for our show, are losses that exist in tandem with financial loss.
The Bigger Picture
We have watched our community process the cancellation across social media platforms, and the testimonies from impacted people have reminded us of us the overwhelming pain, trauma and oppression experienced by queer folx. This highlights the necessity of spaces like Glitterbomb and and similar community events that specifically allow for queer identity liberation, and promote ideology that allows queer people to adjust and thrive.
Though the editor at the DRC might feel that a simple name removal is too much of a request for journalistic precedence, we know what potential dangers might come with being featured in this article. A mention in an article can lead to issues with cybersecurity, online doxxing, and SWATing, all methods used to exploit vulnerable details to threaten the overall safety of individuals. The queer and trans community is never safe from this type of behavior, and we are made even less safe by community leaders who are not willing to step up.
The Need for Safe Community is Data-Driven
Glitterbomb’s parent company, The Gracious Mind, is a science-based mental health organization, and the outreach programs we provide are fully backed by research. The need for safe spaces is inarguable and the detrimental impact of those spaces being threatened is exponential. While there are thousands of studies and reviews that analyze and address these issues, here are a few to consider:
- There is an even greater need for affirming spaces since the onset of the pandemic and social distancing.
- Salero et al. (2020) – noted the heightened gender and sexual minority-related stress since COVID-19 pandemic. Part of healing from the impact of the pandemic means cultivating spaces within our community that allow for connection, belonging, and community. Sadly now, rather than focusing on protection in the service of public health, we are now having to consider whether we can even hold events and limit spaces for folx because of threats due to opinions on one’s personhood and identities.
- Impact of anti-LGBTQIA+ policies
- Gaillard et al. (2017); Salero et al., (2020) – “heteronormativity and cisnormativity in practice and policy-level response to large-scale disasters systematically ignores the needs of LGBTQ populations”
- Winston (2017) – “Inclusive environments are a product of policies that respect and protect the multiple and intersecting identities of their residents. The reduction of structural stigma has tangible implications for interpersonal experience, as well as the mental and physical health of trans and GNC people. Health-conducive environments hold policies and practices that enable people to thrive within and outside of traditional health spheres”
- Horne et al. (2021) “Clinical implications suggest sexual and gender minorities may report increased anxiety in the face of anti…queer legislation, which may be associated with heightened symptoms of depression”
- “The study also tests effects of media coverage prior to the ban on marriage equality. Results showed a statistically significant increase in anti-LGB hate crimes after the ban on same-sex marriage ended.”
- Queer access to safety and safe spaces as self-protective/self-preservation and well-being
- Research findings have indicated that queer individuals who have access and join LGBTQ+ groups are less likely to experience negative psychological symptoms, such as depression (Kulick et al. 20 Kulick, et al. 2018).
- Supportive social environments are essential to empowerment and restorative healing (Ceatha et al., 2019)
- “Poll: Most LGBTQ Americans report violence, threats, or sexual harassment”
To Interested Parties Without Our Interests In Mind
The following statements are directly pointed to the listed organizations and entities who have actively worked against the safety of our team and community.
As previously stated, we feel that the response we received from the editor and staff writer at the Denton-Record Chronicle were dismissive of actual concerns for safety surrounding Glitterbomb. We are angry that we were not given the same opportunity to protect our audience and our community as other organizations who participate in the same industry as Glitterbomb.
We reject the DRC’s statements that our name cannot be redacted without compromising journalistic integrity. We reject demands to prove the existence of threats against us, when so many of those threats are documented and dismissed over and over again – and we do not miss the irony of being asked to prove a threat in an article that was specifically about the threats. We reject derailing techniques that seek to minimize our fear, our pain, and our trauma in order to maintain the privilege of speaking without accountability. To speak plainly – if you need proof that we are under threat, just google “violence against LGBT” and see for yourself. These terrorists live in our communities and they are protected by privilege and power. Denton is not safe for us and we will not play into victim-blaming rhetoric. We have been directly threatened, again and again.
The DRC article as well as the actions exhibited by Mayor Gerard Hudspeth are direct examples of abuse of power, privilege and negligence of responsibility of leadership. We were briefly heartened by the implementation of a non-discimination ordinance which took effect almost two months ago, but the ordinance is only as good as the leaders who enforce it. You as our leaders of Denton are obligated to represent marginalized voices, provide safety for all, as well as stay aware of threats to marginalized communities. Leadership means you have the power to make changes that benefit our artists and performer communities of all identities in order to continue the enrichment of the community at-large.
We see your actions, where they are executed, and where you are complicit and actions are absent. We demand more, and we demand better.
To the Community
Our community has reached out to us through various communication streams to express how they too have been impacted by the show’s cancellation. Many have cited that Glitterbomb was the first place they felt a sense of community, and we hear over and over again that it gives people a sense of belonging and safety that allows them to step forward as their most authentic selves. We are grateful for your confidence, solidarity and strength in sharing your testimonies with us – you remind us why Glitterbomb exists. We are so sorry that we were not able to protect you in the space last night, and we thank you for trusting us in knowing that we would never cancel the show without real fears for your safety.
Glitterbomb Denton, its team and partnering programs are committed to continuing to keep our staff and audience safe. At present, these measures include continued updates to our Glitterbomb audience handbook, increased safety measures during our events in partnership with the Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios team, as well as continuing to collaborate with our community and trusted partners on what we can do to maintain safety in the future.
Thank you to community leaders like Deb Armintor, District 2 Representative Brian Beck, and members of fellow community organizations who reached out to us with their support and encouraged others to support us as well. Know that your efforts are seen and we find comfort in those moments.
Thank you to Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios for your continued support and care of our show. Rubber Gloves continues to be a great partner of Glitterbomb and we are proud to work with this venue and their staff.
These events are strong reminders of the importance of voting in local elections and having your voice heard to your city government. We as citizens of Denton hold the power to vote representatives and leaders that have our actual interests in mind.
If you are unsure if you are registered to vote, please verify it here.
If you would like to support The Gracious Mind or Glitterbomb, donations can be made using the following information:
- Click here to donate to The Gracious Mind.
- Venmo @glitterbombdenton
EmpoweringUs is a processing group for LGTBQIA+ adults aged 22-45. Led by our TGM team members, EmpoweringUs will be used as a space to connect with others, learn therapeutic skills, and heal with and within community.
OUTreach Denton is a nonprofit organization committed to providing mutual support, resources, organizing, advocacy, and fun with the LGBTQ+ community in Denton, Texas.
Prism North Texas or PHNTX, is the largest local nonprofit HIV/AIDS service organization in North Texas providing HIV care, free STI and HIV testing, transgender care, and more.
Artitude is an LGBTQ arts organization dedicated to supporting diverse LGBTQ+ and allied artists by cultivating opportunities for artists to share their work and their stories.
Glitterbomb Denton is an outreach program of The Gracious Mind Counseling and Wellness Center, LLC.