A dog shelter is receiving death threats because it had a drag queen read books to dogs.
On September 24, the Hard Knocks Rescue & Training facility of Huntsville, Alabama had a drag queen named Miss Majesty Divine read to the dogs in its care.
Chaya Raichik, who goes by LibsofTikTok on social media, posted an article that sought to generate outrage about the event. Video of the live-streamed event — which had only one child in its in-person crowd — showed the drag queen reading Walter the Farting Dog: Banned from the Beach and making innuendo comments about men liking “meat” and “big bones.”
After Raichik published her article, the dog shelter began receiving violent threats. Her posts, which regularly accuse LGBTQ people of “grooming” children for sexual abuse, have inspired death threats against drag performers, educators, and healthcare providers.
James Miller, the drag performer who read to the dogs, has since been put on paid leave from his job as a teacher in the Huntsville School District after Raichik’s post. He has said the jokes he made weren’t any worse than the innuendo that has appeared in children’s cartoons.
“You guys are total f**king scumbags … You sick f**ks secretly WANT to sexualize little kids because deep down you’re twisted and demented pedos who really really want to f**k kids,” one message said. “I seriously hope that the next workplace shooting occurs at our organization and snuffs out everyone who approved of this. Maybe then our children will be safe from predators like you.”
The shelter also began getting bad reviews on its Google and Facebook pages.
In a video responding to the threats, the shelter owners said, “We’re not backing down on what we do…. We know this is a risk, but it is the right side of things to be on.”
They also said they had reported the threats to the police and FBI but would continue to operate as they usually do.
“We are being very careful about security,” they continued. “We understand that this is a scary situation. It’s a scary situation. For us. It’s a scary situation for our volunteers, and it’s probably going to make a lot of our clients uncomfortable as well.”
They also noted that Miss Majesty Divine had helped them fundraise and host story hour events at their shelter in the past. The books read during the event focus on “inclusion, acceptance, being authentic, being comfortable in your own skin,” they added.
“Our mission is to focus on the outcast dogs, the underdogs, the dogs that nobody wants to work with,” they said. “The people that we kind of gravitate to and pull into our circle are the people who have always felt pushed out.”
One of the owners also said that they knew what it was like to feel marginalized because they grew up with a gay father during the 1980s.
“To have had a place to go and activities that we could have gone to together as a family that also encompassed other things that we liked, would have been life-changing for me,” one owner said.
The shelter also said it wants to begin a program to help at-risk LGBTQ youth work with dogs so they can both “heal together.”
“We would rather be excluded for those we include that included for those we exclude,” the nonprofit’s CEO Lisa Maasen said.