On Sunday morning starting around 8:30 a.m. a cadre of Bloomington community members started gathering on the sidewalk in front of Switchyard Brewing on North Walnut Street in downtown.
They were there to support the business and to defend it against phoned-in threats that owner Kurtis Cummings had received about the “Drag Brunch” that was set for a 11 a.m. show start.
The threat was there would be a “presence” of protesters against the drag-show-themed brunch that would make Cummings want to shut down the event. One accusation Cummings heard over the phone was that drag shows sexualize and groom children for sexual abuse.
During the show, Cummings circulated from inside the bar to outside on the sidewalk among the crowd of supporters, which at one point reached at least 150 people.
Some supporters stayed until the show concluded and the drag queens had left the building.
As far as sexualized content, Cummings said what he’d seen on stage inside was less sexualized than some Super Bowl halftime shows.
Sunday’s ticketed brunch was sold out. The morning’s planned entertainment went off without any disruptions.
Two men appeared to have shown up on Sunday morning in order to provoke reactions and record smartphone footage of the confrontations for upload to the internet.
Their attempts to film a drag queen who came outside to thank supporters were thwarted—when supporters formed a phalanx around her and held flags or bags high, to block any sight lines from smartphones held aloft.
Admonishments to supporters came from the self-organized security detail: “Don’t give them any content.” That meant the documentarians were mostly met with rows of silent stares.
Audio of remarks from Cummings:
Cummings addressed the crowd around the time the show was scheduled to start.
When he started getting the threatening calls, Cummings said he was scared and felt lonely. He no longer felt that way, he said.
Comparing his own recent experience with those of the crowd, Cummings said, “I know a lot of you, you’ve dealt with this your entire life. And I’m proud to say that we’re an ally. I’m proud to say that you’re all here with us.”
About the misconceptions some people have about drag shows, Cummings tapped a slogan he’d learned from his mentor, Ari Weinzweig, of Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan: “When you’re furious, get curious!”
Cummings traced the threats to a failure of curiosity: “The only reason why this is happening is because of a set group of people that refuse to, when they’re furious, get curious. When you’re furious, get curious!”
Cummings elaborated on the slogan: “It says very simply, when you are upset with something, when you’re upset with someone, rather than attack, rather than get angry, rather than get mean, rather than get hostile, ask questions, get curious. Learn. It’s not that hard.”
Cummings wrapped up: “And I’m telling you this much. This isn’t the last time we’re gonna do this.”
Themed brunches are planned roughly one every quarter of the year, Cummings told The B Square. Not every one of them is a drag-themed event.
The next one will likely be in February, he said, organized around a Valentine’s Day theme.