Tea Zaanti, a local wine and tea shop in Salt Lake City, was packed with adults and children singing and dancing along with drag queens during an all-ages, family-friendly show on Friday.
However, outside the shop, a group of armed far-right protesters from the Salt Lake chapter of the Proud Boys gathered, menacing patrons and hurling homophobic slurs. In the wake of these real-world threats of violence, the producer of the Utah event has announced that they will be pausing the shows to regroup.
It was the 13th time the all-ages event, Bes-TEAS, had been held in the last year and a half, but the first time that people had actually showed up to protest, says host and drag performer Tara Lipsyncki.
Lipsyncki says that Tea Zaanti’s owner called the police to complain about the threats outside the establishment, but that in their opinion, when the Salt Lake City police department showed up, “some of those officers seemed very buddy-buddy with the Proud Boys members.”
Lipsyncki says that they will take a break from hosting all-ages drag events until enough funds and adequate security arrangements have been made to ensure safety. They explained that this was a strategic decision and was not a sign of capitulation to right-wing hatred.