They say you can tell a lot about a man by what motivates him to firebomb a building. And if the man says his motivation was a drag queen story hour, that tells you he’s a Nazi.
Such is the case for Aimenn Penny, a 20-year-old Ohio man who attempted to set fire to the Community Church of Chesterland using Molotov cocktails. According to authorities the act occurred on March 25. Oh, and this guy is a member of White Lives Matter Ohio (insert emoji vomit face).
So, to recap, all of the right-wing uproar over drag queens reading to children has led to a firebombing of a church.
Great work, Proud Nazi Supremacist Christian Boyz, or whatever you call yourself. (Side note: Worst name for a boy band ever).
March 25 wasn’t Penny’s first foray into white supremacist violence. The Advocate reports that back in October “he was interviewed by the police after distributing racist flyers and making claims that black people were the ‘problem’ and that a civil war was imminent.” So, he was already on law enforcement’s radar. Like many of these domestic terrorists are.
And yet, Penny was then part of a protest against a drag queen story hour at Wadsworth Memorial Park on March 11, which attracted “hundreds of armed far-right extremists,” according to The Advocate. “Penny…joined members of the group who carried flags with swastikas and yelled homophobic slurs at the drag queen event while wearing military-style gear and carrying a gun.” You know, just your average totally normal way to spend an afternoon.
“A number of far-right extremist and religious groups, including the Proud Boys, Patriot Front, III Percenters, White Lives Matter of Ohio, Blood Tribe (a neo-Nazi movement led by former Marine Chris Pohlhaus, who was armed) , and unaffiliated conservatives, attended the [March 11] event to disrupt it,” reports The Advocate.
I’d like to call attention to the “unaffiliated conservatives.” I bet a lot of those folks consider themselves good Christians doing the Lord’s work of protecting children from the danger of drag queens. To those folks I say: Look around you. YOU’RE ON THE SAME SIDE AS NAZIS. That’s not the side of the “good guys.”
Penny, like so many of these Nazi dumb shits, was radicalized in part by the internet.
“Penny stated that [the] night [of March 25], he became more and more angry after watching internet videos of news feeds and drag shows in France and decided to attack the church,” an affidavit reads, according to The Advocate.
Not sure why he was watching French drag shows. Maybe just to make himself extra enraged. It’s probably a safe assumption that he hates France.
The Advocate details “far-right extremist materials” found at his house including “a handwritten manifesto that contained ideological statements, a Nazi flag, Nazi memorabilia, a White Lives Matter of Ohio t-shirt, a gas mask, blue painter’s tape, and gas cans.”
Everything on that list seems pretty damning, except the blue painter’s tape. I don’t know what that’s for and I am not going to try to figure it out via Google because I don’t want to end up on a watch list. The White Lives Matter souvenir t-shirt is a nice touch.
I’ve been warning that the escalating right-wing rhetoric around drag queens would lead to violence. Unfortunately, Republicans across the country have sided firmly with domestic terrorists in order to fuel the fire of a culture war they think will help them keep and/or gain political power. Anti-drag and anti-trans laws are favorite policy proposals right now for Republicans. They truly are a party of hate that has no good ideas and no intention of ever governing in a way that helps people.
According to The Los Angeles Daily News, “at least 35 anti-drag performance bills” have been introduced in state legislatures in 2023.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee just signed a bill banning drag performances from taking “place on public property or in venues accessible to minors,” according to The Advocate.
In a recent YouTube video RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars winner Trixie Mattel speaks out against the anti-drag backlash.
“Right now in Tennessee, I can get a gun and carry it around in public, but I can’t put on a fucking wig,” Mattel says.
Drag queens are not a danger to children. The biggest threat to your child at a drag show is that Nazis will show up with guns and Molotov cocktails. They are literally the fun police, and they are a clear and present danger that we minimize at our peril.
D’Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.