More than 100 turn up to counter the dozen protesters against a Newton high school drag show

The smaller group of protestors called on Newton North High School to cancel an optional drag performance for students.

Counterprotestors greatly outnumbered a group of a roughly a dozen people who gathered Thursday to call on Newton North High School to cancel a non-mandatory drag show scheduled to be held on-campus Friday.

According to NBC 10 Boston, the small opposition crowd convened on Newton Centre Green in response to the planned performance at Newton North High School as part of its Transgender, Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Awareness Day, or ToBeGlad Day.

“This year, we thought it would be really cool to have a drag show, because it’s just kind of a fun event, especially for the LGBTQ students at North,” Newton North High School junior Amiya Smith, who helped plan the event, told the station. “We vetted the performance and we made sure that it was completely appropriate for a teenage audience.”

School administrators said earlier this week the event is optional for students to attend. Those who opt not to check it out can go to the cafeteria, NBC 10 Boston reports.


“To Be Glad Day has been going on for over 20 years. I myself have spoken twice at Newton South High School,” Holly Ryan, a Ward 8 Newton City Councilor, told the outlet. “Being a transgender woman and now a city councilor, I speak about the legitimacy of my community. That we can be anything. We can do anything. We can rise to any level.”

Protestors against the performance — some of whom came from outside Newton and outside Massachusetts — said the show would not be age appropriate.

“I think it’s fine for adult entertainment, and it may well be art, but it’s always been art for adults,” said Stephen Scaer, a protester who travelled to Newton from Nashua, New Hampshire — a some 44-mile drive. “The drag show at the school is just part of that ideology that boys and girls aren’t fine as they are, they aren’t beautiful as they are, they need to be permanently changed.”

But over 100 counter-protesters turned up as well.

“Newton is an inclusive and tolerant place,” city resident Laura Towvin told NBC 10 Boston. “We celebrate differences, we want everyone to feel welcome, and I really hope that people will take the time to learn about people who are different than them and learn to celebrate and appreciate them.”


In a statement, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said some teachers and students were online bullied and threatened over the event. Newton police were working to make certain Friday would be safe at the school, according to the station.

“In Newton, we are a committed to better understanding and celebrating our individuality and diversity,” Fuller said in her statement. “As Mayor, I wholeheartedly and proudly support our LGBTQ+ students as they build awareness of and celebrate their identities. This day and this work are important and necessary to create a welcoming and inclusive school community.”

The station also spoke with the drag performer, Missy Steak, who was set to perform Friday with a brief speech and sing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”

“I am just a person doing a job,” said Steak. “I’m an entertainer and this is what we do. We come in and we sing or we dance or we read and we leave. And it’s just something we do for fun and bring fun to other people.

“It’s not sexual, it’s fun. It’s art, it’s clownery in the most Shakespearian sense,” Steak continued. “If you walk away from drag and feel offended, you’re allowed to have those feelings, but that’s not what the art form is about.”


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