NC restaurant owner faces death threats after hosting drag show

25 June 2022

— A North Carolina restaurant is now facing death threats after hosting a drag show last Friday. Some community members protested, and since then, restaurant owner Mark Henegan said he’s been receiving threats.

Henegan owns Bush Farmhouse in Black Mountain. For him, hosting a drag show was an invitation of inclusivity. All ages attended the dinner show.

But those who did attend had to walk by a group of protesters, holding signs like, “This breaks God’s heart.”

One of the protesters told WLOS that the reason she was there was to “protect the children.”

Hallie Saunders, a Black Mountain resident of 27 years, felt that that children were being exploited during the drag show by watching dance moves she felt were inappropriate.

“Bumping and grinding, it was very sexual,” she said. “There’s already enough confusion as it is in this world.”

The handful of protesters were asked to leave by police. But now, their protest is taking a different form.

“We had a guy calling a few nights ago, threatening the restaurant and the staff because of the drag queen show,” he said. “You have to take that into consideration.”

Henegan said the decision to celebrate the LGBT community at his business came at a cost.

“It saddens me that nobody has all the same view points, so how to we make it successful without hurting anybody?” he said. “To make peace with the community, and to make it more of an appropriate age show to make sure nobody is hurt or disrespected.”

Henegan said he loves Black Mountain and he wants more people to come and visit.

“I don’t want to stir up more waves, but I want to continue what I’m doing with love and compassion,” he said.

Even though Henegan said he doesn’t feel that the show was suggestive, he understands how others may have a different opinion. He said that since his restaurant hosted the drag show, they’ve received 5 threatening phone calls.

“Change doesn’t happen over night, and things progress. I think if it continues, do it with love, and don’t hurt anybody,” he said.

But opponents of the LGBT community don’t show any sign of letting up the pressure on Henegan and his business.

“Children should be protected, and if parents aren’t going to do that, I have a burden,” Saunders said.

According to a study released Thursday, anti-LGBT political violence and mobilization has increased this year compared to last year. The study from ACLED says “incidents of political violence targeting the LGBT+ community this year have already exceeded the total number of attacks reported last year.”

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