Wisconsin’s leading anti-gay crusader inadvertently helped to sell out a University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley drag show in Menasha after an “action alert” she issued about the March 14 event went viral.
Days prior to the show, Wisconsin Family Action director Julaine Appling demonized the event to her followers as a “display of immorality” intended to propagandize young people. She urged readers to contact the event’s organizers and ask them to halt the program.
A story that wisconsingazette.com posted about Appling’s opposition to the event drew more than 26,000 readers. Syndicated gay columnist Dan Savage, who’s based in Seattle, brought national attention to the event when he purchased tickets and gave them away. A total of 250 tickets were sold, the maximum available.
School officials said the event was paid for by student fees – not taxpayers – and described drag as part of a classic comedy tradition that pre-dates Shakespeare, whose female characters were played by men.
David Hager, UWFox director of university relations, said the publicity surrounding the event “gave the campus new exposure,” including coverage on Milwaukee television and nationwide discussions on Twitter and Facebook.
Feedback varied, Hager said, from people who expressed opposition to indifference to strong support.
UWFox is one of 13 University of Wisconsin campuses.
Appling was the leading force behind the 2006 voter referendum that added anti-gay discrimination to the Wisconsin Constitution by banning same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state. A self-proclaimed defender of “traditional marriage,” Appling has never married and has lived for decades with another never-married woman in a home the two own jointly in Watertown.
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