Google is backing away from a company-promoted Pride Month drag performance after a group of employees complained it was anti-Christian.
A few hundred employees signed a petition accusing the company of religious discrimination for promoting a “Pride and Drag Show” featuring popular performer “Peaches Christ ” Tuesday at LGBTQ+ bar Beaux in San Francisco’s Castro district.
“Their provocative and inflammatory artistry is considered a direct affront to the religion beliefs and sensitivities of Christians,” the petition alleged.
Google, one of the corporate sponsors of Pride events in San Francisco each year, removed the performance from an internal events page and encouraged employees to attend a social gathering in the office instead.
The company did not say if the petition played a part in that decision. It told USA TODAY the drag performance was planned outside the standard events process, which changed in November to require all events be approved in advance.
“Our Pride celebrations have regularly featured drag artists for many years, including several this year,” Google said. “This particular event was booked by and shared within one team without going through our standard events process.”
This was the second straight year that Google promoted the Pride Month performance, according to Peaches Christ.
Google held the event in San Francisco rather than staging it in a sterile conference room at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters at her request, she said.
“In my world, Jesus has a sense of humor,” Peaches Christ told USA TODAY in a interview. “Yes, I did host a ‘Hunky Jesus’ contest. Yes, I support the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Yes, my show is called ‘Midnight Mass’. But the Jesus and the God I believe in does not care.”
The frequent target of conservative and religious groups, drag shows have become a political powder keg in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, further splitting an already divided America with a wave of legislative proposals in red states.
Peaches Christ said she was disturbed to see Google employees in the Bay Area jump on the bandwagon.
“This is another example of the really disturbing rise in anti-queer and anti-gay rhetoric that is using drag performers and trans people as scapegoats,” she said. “Anyone who knows me and knows my career knows that I use this drag character and name to present love, to make people laugh, to create entertainment and to create space for outsiders.”
Christian employees alleged that Google promoted an event with anti-Christian themes in violation of its own policies on “inclusiveness” and “appropriateness.”
A software engineer, Tom Turney, drafted the petition which called for the event to be canceled and for a public apology from the organizers.
Software engineer Michael Harrington told The Federalist that the performance crossed “an uncrossable line” and said he was alarmed by the growing willingness to attack Christians in the workplace.
Other employees criticized Google for bowing to the pressure and said the complaints added fuel to the nation’s culture wars, according to discussions viewed by CNBC.