Drag brunch in The Woodlands draws crowd despite social media pushback

Mahoney’s Texish Bar and Restaurant was standing-room only Sunday in The Woodlands for its first Pride event, a drag show, despite pushback on social media.

When the event, Drag Me To Brunch, was announced, it was booked up in three hours. But several weeks later, the restaurant began getting critical phone calls and social media backlash that Mahoney’s was endangering children by hosting the drag event.

On social media, claims that Mahoney’s was trying to lure children into “the gay lifestyle” by offering free food for kids at the event began to circulate. These claims led to dozens of comments on the business’s Facebook page and angry calls to the restaurant.

Trish Fleming works in advertising, but she offered to help Mahoney’s and monitor the restaurant’s social media pages when she saw the backlash. The first thing she did was point out the misleading wording on the original event notice.

The original graphic advertised the event as an “All ages performance.” What this was meant to convey, Fleming said, was that the event was open to all ages, not that there would be performances by children. All of the drag performers were adults.

Fleming suggested making the event for adults only.

“They have the right to protest. But we also have the right to have an event that you don’t want to go to,” Fleming said.

The performers and the business agreed to change the brunch to an 18-and-up-only event. People who had made a reservation was contacted and told about the change. According to Fleming, no one canceled their reservation and the business never thought about canceling the event.

The inaccurate claim that the restaurant was going to offer free food to children spread across social media, despite Fleming and the restaurant staff telling callers and people who commented that free food was never offered to anyone.

After the changes to the event were agreed upon, Fleming helped craft a press release and the Facebook event was updated with a new graphic and an explanation of the changes.

“After the past few days, it is essential to make this very clear, the owners and staff of Mahoney’s Texish Bar & Restaurant are all about providing a safe and inclusive restaurant for their patrons,” according to the release. “Drag me to Brunch WILL continue as planned on June 26th, 2022, as Mahoney’s feels it is vital for them to give back to the LGBTQ community.”

Although the event was scheduled to start at noon, ticket holders for the event were lining up outside of Mahoney’s as early as 11 a.m. Reservations for the event had sold out three hours after the event was originally posted several weeks ago, but the business had a walk-in line in case there were reservation no-shows. IDs were checked at the door. Once all the tables and reservations were filled, Mahoney’s offered a standing-only option for anyone left in the event line over 18 years old.

Across the street, a small handful of protesters came to pray and sing hymns. Never reaching more than six people at a time, their presence was hardly noticed by the event attendees, and by the time the event had finished the protesters had all left.

A family with children had to leave the walk-in line before the event. They had not heard about the change to 18 and over. Naomi Becks from Conroe had initially planned on attending the event with her teenager who is gender fluid but came alone instead to support the LGBTQ community.

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