After giving it all a once over, it became clear there was more to this story than meets the eye. It seemed as though their choice of Ferndale, a largely conservative city, was on purpose to “break down the walls” and plant their flag in a twisted version of an LGBTQ+ moon landing. Curious to see exactly how each side felt about this scenario, LCP was compelled to reach out for follow-up interviews.
This exercise proved worthwhile as, to our surprise, it produced a narrative far from what the local woke media would have you believe. In this article, we will dissect these recent headlines and compare them to the questions and answers from Old Steeple owners Cheri and Paul at the end of this article.
Lost Coast Outpost Spins the Ferndale Drag Show Narrative from the Start
Ryan Burns from the Outpost, in his article titled, “Ferndale Drag Show Canceled After ‘Beware’ Sign at Local Church Prompts Concerns About Extremist Response,” conveniently leaves out the fact this drag show was planned and promoted as an all-ages event. The fact it was to be an all-ages event, with a drag show as the specific driving element, is the recurring theme that sparks concern in local parents.
In their own words to the Eureka City Council and to the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission, local concerned parents who protested an all-ages drag show at the Jefferson Community Center on October 23, 2022, all proclaimed a protest would have never occurred if the event was adults only. This is also the main element that caused St. Marks Lutheran Church’s Pastor, Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, to change the marque for the church to a warning message for his neighbors.
One Could Have Said, “It’s a Sign!”
Is Ferndale the kind of city that has a history of drag performances? If this question never occurred to you, it occurred to Lost Coast Pride, who were excited to be bringing the very first drag show to Ferndale ever. What is the purpose of having a drag show in Ferndale? Is there some burning need that is not being filled where drag shows, all ages no less, somehow fill this need in Ferndale?
This event was a fundraiser. Was an all-ages drag show, as the entertainment for the night, absolutely necessary and foundational to bringing in the largest sum of contributions? Did they expect large donations from the children’s audience or their moms and dads? Alternatively, were the donations going to come from parties excited to fund an environment where children are exposed to elements of an adult, sexual nature, however, milked down it may be?
Perhaps there is an equal and opposite culture of Humboldt living in Ferndale, say a more classical Americano culture of folk that Lost Coast Pride sought to provoke? Would there have been any pushback if they chose a venue in Arcata, for example? Does it benefit gender-affirming NGOs to have examples of alleged hate crimes they’ve been to so-called victims of?
Here is one of the proponents of All-Age Drag Shows saying the quiet part out loud!
Some might have the libertarian view that a private business can host an all-ages drag show without any cause for concern. This, only of course, if it were to follow specific criteria not to push the sexual boundaries of the children’s audience and/or what their parents/guardians decide is acceptable.
What does Ferndale Music Co think? Extremists? NO
One of our interviews, as said before, was with the Ferndale Music Company. When the proprietor was asked about her comments in the Lost Coast Outpost article, specifically, “Friends and customers reached out to us regarding threatening Facebook messages that pointed to the possibility of extremists attending the event to disrupt it.” I asked her if she could describe how they’d imagined these “extremists” would have disrupted the event.
Digging down to specifics we were curious about, I asked if she knew what “extremist group” was threatening to show up. Her thoughtful response below was not what we expected and included, “Hindsight is 20/20, and now that the dust has settled somewhat, we’d probably would have chosen a different word than extremist.”
I suppose the best case scenario involving protesters would have been people peaceably assembling outside with signs, perhaps coming inside to actually see what was happening – but again, peaceably. What ultimately persuaded us to cancel was when customers brought to our attention that an individual opposed to the event was searching for addresses of the organizers.
I acknowledge that as far as threats go, this was vague – yet someone trying to track me down at my home was enough for me to cancel. We just didn’t want to take the risk of disruption coming to our home, and we didn’t realize when we booked the event that this could have been a possibility.
Keep in mind that from the time the controversy first erupted on social media to when we put out our cancellation statement was less than 24 hours.
Hindsight is 2020 and now that the dust has settled somewhat, we’d probably have chosen a different word than “extremist.”
Cheri, Ferndale Music Company and Old Steeple
Full Interview with Ferndale Music Company
In the Lost Coast Outpost article you say, “Friends and customers reached out to us regarding threatening Facebook messages that pointed to the possibility of extremists attending the event to disrupt it.” Extremist is defined as, “A person who advocates or resorts to measures beyond the norm, especially in politics, a person with extreme opinions.”
If a local parent is sincerely against all-ages drag shows but would care less if the drag show was adults only, would you view them as being an Extremist or having an extreme opinion?
We wouldn’t consider that parent’s viewpoint as extremist, simply different than our own. We maintain that, as with any form of entertainment, drag shows vary a lot in content and it entirely possible to put on a toned-down version that is about the costumes/glitter/makeup rather than sexualized content. Will that be something everyone wants to take their kids to? Of course not. But for those who do, it’s a fun way to support the LGBTQ+ community and teach kids about diversity.
Again, we totally understand that many Christian parents are going to say, no way. People of different ideologies are going to define what is “kid-appropriate” in different ways. I think it’s important to remember that as a fundraiser, this is a private event located inside a private venue. Only paying attendees may go inside.
As parents it is our individual responsibility to decide what we believe is appropriate for our children and our family values, and that will absolutely vary by family. I would 100% respect this parent’s choice (to be opposed to all-ages drag shows) and ask them to respect our choice to hold an event that we are legally allowed to hold.
Also, I would say that if a parent has questions about the specific content of an all ages drag performance, they should consider reaching out to the organizers to get more information rather than making assumptions.
Gays Against Groomers is a non profit organization that is fighting back in the name of Lesbians’, Gays, and Bisexuals against the grooming of children by the QTAI-MAP+ community. You can research them here (gaysagainstgroomers.com) – this group is passionately vocal at school boards and city council meetings against all age drag shows, drag pedagogy, and gender theory being taught to legally defined children (humans under the age of 18).
What is your message to the thousands of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals who would stand in solidarity with the “extremists” who were allegedly going to disrupt the drag show scheduled for February 4th at your establishment?
As with any demographic, LGBTQ+ individuals are going to vary in their personal opinions on social issues. Of course it’s fine for Gays Against Groomers to advocate against kids attending drag shows, just as it’s fine for others to support all-ages drag shows (we’re talking about all-ages drag shows that have developed their content with all-ages attendees in mind, as was the case with this show).
Our message to anyone opposed to the idea of an all-ages drag show in Ferndale is the same as we stated earlier: As with any form of entertainment, drag shows vary a lot in content and it entirely possible to put on a toned-down version that is about the costumes/glitter/makeup rather than sexualized content. Will that be something everyone wants to take their kids to? Of course not. But for those who do, it’s a fun way to support the LGBTQ+ community and teach kids about diversity.
Critics of all ages drag shows, like Gays Against Groomers and the local concerned parents, say these events cross a line citing the fact minors can not be dropped off without an adult at the theater to see a rated R movie, they can not enter strip clubs (even under conditions where no alcohol is served and the dancers do not get nude), and that all age drag shows only get a pass because they are promoted exclusively by the LGBQT community. Would you support a heterosexuals only all ages burlesque strip tease fundraiser for Gays Against Groomers?
I’m not sure how to answer this question but it delves so far away from what this show was going to be about. This show was not intended for parent-less attendance. This was not to be a strip show, and The Old Steeple is NOT a strip club. There was not going to be nudity or sexual content.
I would say that conflating a fun costume-y drag with a burlesque strip show is inflammatory. Drag is a varied form of entertainment, but at its most basic level involves individuals dressing up as members of the opposite sex. This is something that has happened in entertainment for centuries.
In response to your very specific question as to whether I would support a heterosexual-only all-ages burlesque Strip tease fundraiser for Gays Against Groomers, I would say: I would highly surprised to see such a fundraiser offered, and while it would raise my eyebrows and I certainly wouldn’t take a young child, I would not protest it.
I can’t imagine any parent taking a child to a strip tease, and I trust that you and most people are intelligent enough to understand the different between a burlesque “strip tease” and a show without nudity that just happens to include men wearing heels and makeup.
The comments section for this article is filled with statements like “Bramwell should be run out of town,” and ,”The county needs to restrict tourism funding and marketing for Ferndale unless Ferndale City issues a rapid response.” Also “local terrorists make threats, get what they want and will face no consequences.” Do you support this commentary and feel as though it is accurate and balanced?
No, we do not support this commentary. We find these comments appalling, and are highly disappointed and embarrassed by threats against anyone’s safety and constitutional rights. Calls to run the Bramwell family out of town are hateful, clearly “extremist,” and dilute our point.
The comment about restricting funding is just silly, as Bramwell is obviously free to post what he wants and his choice shouldn’t dictate tourism funding. And do I even need to clarify we know Bramwell is not a terrorist?! While it’s understandable and within our rights to disagree or feel angry with someone, it is not acceptable to threaten violence.
Clearly this is something people on both sides feel very strongly about, yet that doesn’t make threatening harm okay. That said, I think it’s important not to get into an argument about which “side” is “worse” because we all know that in this age of social media there are far too many vile commenters on both side of any ideological and political spectrum.
The particular comments you’ve quoted are unfair and unbalanced. As a whole, though, there’s no way to ensure commentary is balanced because people are going to feel the way they feel, and from what we’ve seen, many Ferndale residents have expressed support of our right to hold the event and disdain at the St. Mark’s sign (yet angry as they might be, most agree it is his right to post the message).
What is your response to critics of all-age drag shows and/or drag story time who point to science showing a child’s environment to be directly related to future pedophilic urges and that for every 1 heterosexual predator of children, there are 11 homosexual pedophiles.
The claim of “trans-youth” needing an outlet and a safe space to experience representation as a noble activity is clearly a misplaced good intention which is now causing division in the local community, lasting damage to our youth, and potentially creating future sexual predators.
In response to this question, our personal opinions of these critics is that they’re spewing hogwash regurgitated by fake news on social media and conservative network TV. Obviously a child’s environment matters, and what matters is they are raised in a safe, stable, loving home — which has nothing to do with a parent’s gender or whether they identify as LGBTQ+. We feel any “division” in our community over the subject of creating safe spaces for trans youth is stoked by people who feel threatened by the idea that trans youth exist.
Comments on the Lost Coast Pride Instagram in reaction to Bramwell’s signs are now calling for a band of local LGBQT to show up and disrupt his service this coming Sunday, is this something the Ferndale Music Company Supports?
Regarding people showing up to Bramwell’s church, no, we’re not comfortable with the idea of “disruption” at his church, just as we’re not comfortable with disruption at The Old Steeple. If people want to protest outside, that’s one thing. They have the right to do so, just as they would have had the right to do so had we proceeded with holding the event.
We’ve marched outside St. Mark’s Church in solidarity with protestors after pastor Bramwell put up a sign that was blatantly anti-LGBTQ. I think it gets subjective when you have to define what it is to “disrupt.” Can the mere presence of opposition feel disruptive? Sure, it can. But if we’re talking about people going inside his church and yelling to the point that he can’t carry on the church service and that could be harmful to youth attending his service, no, we’re not okay with that.
Do you see how some might view all age drag shows as grooming children into accepting the transsexual ideology at an age when they are open to suggestion and remarkably influenceable? Do you understand why parents would be concerned about such activity occurring in their locality, open to the public, and open to all ages as a direct threat to the preservation of childhood innocence?
When we look within the context of Christianity, I am not surprised that some people within that worldview take this perspective. But because we do not view being transsexual as an “ideology” any more than we view being, say, left-handed as an ideology, this view is just so far from what we believe in that it’s hard for us to speak to it. I agree protecting childhood innocence – letting kids be kids — is vital.
I disagree with the insinuation that exposing kids to art and culture in a measured, supervised way will disrupt childhood innocence. Rather than generalize entire communities, why not look at activities on a case-by-case basis?
As far as the worry of children being influenced at an age when they are open to suggestion, I would also say, do you think it’s appropriate for children to attend church when they are open to ideology and suggestion? Should they be allowed to do anything before they are old enough to make up their own minds?
If a parent doesn’t want their kid at a drag show, by all means, don’t take them – but please let other parents who may share a different worldview (and have a clearer understanding of what an all-ages drag show actually is and isn’t) make up their own minds.re far more concerned with the potentially negative influences of social media on children than we are with kids seeing performers dressed in drag.
We have an interview from an individual we have confirmed left comments on Lost Coast Outpost in regard to this situation. Only one of their comments was allowed to stay, those that were not supportive of the drag show were censored by Outpost staff. How does the Ferndale Music Company feel about an opposing voiced being censored over this situation which is clearly important to a wide variety of community members both for and against?
Without seeing the comments in question, I don’t see how we can comment accurately. If you’re talking about a comment that merely opposed the event, and did not threaten harm or perpetuate potentially dangerous unfounded claims, then no we don’t think it should have been censored.
We think it’s important to include opposing voices so everyone involved has an accurate understanding of how the controversy is viewed by the larger community, and so we have an opportunity to expand our understanding of the issue.
Thank you again for the opportunity to respond.
Best, Cheri March, co-owner (with Paul Beatie)
Ferndale Music Company The Old Steeple PO Box 1350 246 Berding Street Ferndale, CA 95536 707-786-7030 www.ferndalemusiccompany.com