East Tennessee’s Rainbow Mafia
By Mark Pulliam
The LGBTQ community likes to portray itself as the powerless victim of oppression by an intolerant society, but in reality it is an aggressive—even militant—challenger of the Judeo-Christian morality that has long characterized predominately-religious East Tennessee. Staging “all ages” drag shows, for instance, is a provocative course of action in conservative parts of the Bible Belt. Yet the purveyors of these events, like The Bird & The Book in Maryville, feign surprise—and even purport to “feel unsafe”—when residents object to the sordid performances.
Nor are the instigators of these prurient displays “powerless.” Often they hold positions of influence, and use that influence to try to intimidate or even silence their critics. For example, Lisa Misosky, who owns the aforementioned The Bird & The Book (an LGBTQ hub), serves on the Board of Directors of the nonprofit Blount County Friends of the Library and was recently nominated to be one of 10 finalists for this year’s Athena Leadership Award for outstanding women in leadership roles. The Athena Award program is sponsored in part by the Daily Times, which regularly promotes Misosky’s businesses (she also owns Southland Books and The Dungeon) and causes, including Blount Pride, a pro-LGBTQ+ advocacy group.
Misosky, who is a member of the Blount Chamber of Commerce, is not the “marginalized” minority she pretends to be. In fact, she can be quite bellicose, as reflected in comments she made in the Daily Times last year, when she referred to critics of the drag shows she frequently hosts this way: “Despite the outcries of a small and dying contingency in the county, not everyone who lives and works here are white, heterosexual and so conservative that they border on fascist. In fact, sometimes it’s difficult for me to tell.” So, objecting to scantily-clad transvestites prancing around in front of children is “fascism”?
Misosky’s remarks at a recent “LGBTQ+ Town Hall Forum” held at Maryville College on November 10 (hosted by Appalachia OUTreach and the Maryville College Pride Club) were no more conciliatory. In the Q&A period with the FBI agents and federal prosecutors who were speaking, Misosky revealed that she often calls the FBI to report—as “hate crimes”!—social media posts made by people who criticize the drag shows she hosts. She also insulted community members who do not share her pro-LGBTQ views as “conservative dipshits.” To Misosky, concepts such as civility and tolerance are a one-way street; she demands them from the majority of Blount County residents who disagree with her, but refuses to reciprocate.
The LGBTQ crowd in general has the same mindset, viewing objections to drag shows and disagreement with the LGBTQ agenda as “hate speech.” Drag show performers and hosts are particularly incensed at the use of the term “groomer” to describe their targeting of children. At the Maryville College town hall, when FBI agents explained that the First Amendment protects as free speech the expression of opinions, the audience—comprised overwhelmingly of LGBTQ advocates—became so irate that the FBI agents terminated the presentation early. The audience was apparently expecting the FBI to agree with them that disapproval of drag shows constitutes a “hate crime.”
Fast forward to the controversial “Drag Queen Christmas” show presented (with no age restriction) at the Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville on December 22. Based on widely-publicized social media accounts (including video clips) of the same show performed earlier in Austin, Texas, East Tennessee conservatives were incensed that children would be exposed to graphic sexual content in a publicly-funded facility that bills itself as “the official state theatre of Tennessee.” When objections to elected officials about the inappropriate and potentially obscene event were unavailing, concerned citizens organized protests outside the Tennessee Theatre the night of the show. One of the protests was led by Pastor Ken Peters of the Patriot Church. According to news reports, as many as 500 protesters demonstrated peacefully outside, despite the cold weather. The local police were present, but no incidents required intervention.
Although the sold-out event went on as scheduled, despite the protests, local LGBTQ agitators are not content. Some of them apparently still seek to retaliate against individuals who exercised their constitutional rights to assemble and peacefully protest. On the Facebook page of Appalachia OUTreach, a LGBTQ advocacy group based in Maryville (which honors a drag performer named “Icky Stardust” as a “community hero”), a drag show supporter recently posted a message soliciting video footage of the demonstrators. The message states:
***URGENT AND IMPORTANT***
I need any and all photo and video anyone might have taken of the …December 22nd Christmas drag show at the Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville. I am specifically looking for visuals of the protesters on the opposite side of the street, but any and all is appreciated.
If you were at these events and took any photo or video, please contact me ASAP. If you know someone who did, same. Otherwise, please just share this as much as possible.
If you want it anonymous, I will keep your info secure in every way I know how. I just need photo and video, even a TikTok Live or other social media stream.
What possible use could be made of such photos and videos, other to identify protesters for purposes of harassment and retaliation? The author of this Facebook post (a professed bi-sexual who has recorded a tearful YouTube video entitled “Drag Saved Me”) “tagged” a number of fellow-travelers, apparently hoping to get their attention and elicit their assistance. The people he “tagged” included Steve Wildsmith and Joshua Ricker, a drag performer who goes by the name of “Icky Stardust.”
Here, by the way, is “Icky Stardust”:
Steve Wildsmith is an outspoken advocate of the LGBTQ community, a role he formerly was able to discharge as the “entertainment writer” for the Daily Times. Wildsmith abruptly left the Daily Times last year, possibly as a result of intemperate (and arguably defamatory) remarks he made about conservatives (myself included) on social media, where he continues to maintain an active profile. In the small world department, after leaving the Daily Times, the ultra-partisan and rabidly-leftist Wildsmith landed at liberal Maryville College (are you detecting a pattern yet?), where he serves as Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications. His bio at Maryville College states as follows:
He joined the [Maryville College Marketing & Communications] team in January 2022 as the Social Media Specialist and was promoted to Assistant Director of Communications in August 2022. His role includes the writing of press releases, dissemination of Maryville College news to internal and external audiences, oversight of the team’s social media and multimedia roles and more.
Wildsmith was present at the “LGBTQ+ Town Hall Forum” held at Maryville College last November and greeted attendees at the door. He is a tireless promoter of The Bird & The Book, Blount Pride, and Lisa Misosky’s events (drag shows and otherwise). When he was writing for the Daily Times, his fawning pieces often read like infomercials for The Bird & The Book. Despite its origins as a Presbyterian seminary, Maryville College cultivates an LGBTQ-friendly image to attract students. I wonder, however, if his superiors at Maryville College are aware that Wildsmith “moonlights” as a prominent champion of drag performers and a behind-the-scenes member of the LGBTQ “resistance.” Given the extent of Wildsmith’s online advocacy (both in his name and likely under various aliases), one wonders how much of Wildsmith’s workday is spent crusading against traditional morality in East Tennessee–while supposedly working for a “Christian” college!
Here is Steve Wildsmith’s headshot from the Maryville College website:
The LGBTQ activist attempting to form the posse described above is not a poster child for tolerance. On his Facebook page, he exults over the death of Ashli Babbitt (“a Fascist traitor”) and proclaims that “I jumped off my couch in celebration when that traitor went down.” He continues: “We should have mowed down or imprisoned every single participant in the events of January 6th, 2021.” He has also stated that “I don’t respect Patriot Church’s congregation as humans.” Elsewhere, he defames the protesters of the “Drag Queen Christmas” show as “white supremacists.” And the Left accuses conservative Christians of espousing hate and being “extremists”?
If a conservative activist tried to organize a cabal on social media to compile video footage of “the opposition” engaged in lawful, peaceful activities, in order to doxx, harass, intimidate, or retaliate against them, he would be rightly condemned as a thug, oppressor, or “fascist.” In LGBTQ circles, however, it is considered perfectly acceptable, even if using the Facebook page of a non-profit whose mission purports to be to “empower and advance our LGBTQ+ communities through programs, education, resources, partnerships, and most importantly, love, kindness and a respect for all.” For everyone, it turns out, other than those who disagree.
Churches opposed to “all ages” drag shows and conservatives who express criticism of the LGBTQ agenda are targeted for hateful responses–and even retaliation–by the bullies posing as “victims.” It is time to expose the double standard and regard the LGBTQ extremists for what they are–a Rainbow Mafia.