Google is distancing itself from a cross-dressing performance it planned as the closing event for Pride month after a group of employees circulated an internal petition opposing it, claiming religious discrimination.
Each year, Google sponsors a series of Pride events in San Francisco and other locations for employees and the public. This year’s closing event was a “Pride and Drag Show” featuring popular performer “Peaches Christ,” who was set to perform at San Francisco LGBTQ bar Beaux on Tuesday to “cap off this amazing month,” according to a now-deleted internal description of the event watched by CNBC.
However, employees noticed that the company removed the show from its internal corporate events page around the same time a petition began circulating against the event, according to internal discussions viewed by CNBC.
- Advertisement -
Several hundred employees signed the petition against the cross-dressing performance, claiming it sexualizes and disrespects Christian colleagues, and accuses Google of religious discrimination, according to the petition viewed by CNBC. “Their provocative and inflammatory artistry is considered a direct affront to the religious beliefs and sensibilities of Christians,” the petition said, referring to the transvestite.
Google confirmed to CNBC that it was no longer categorizing the achievement as a Google-recognized diversity, equality, and inclusion event. The company hosted a separate social gathering at Google’s offices, where it is now encouraging employees to participate.
An internal team planned the closing drag event “without going through our standard event process,” spokesperson Chris Pappas said in a statement to CNBC. “Although the event organizers have moved the official team event on site, the performance will continue at the planned venue – and it will be open to the public, so employees can still attend.”
Pappas added: “We have long been very proud to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community. Our Pride celebrations have featured regular drag performers for many years, including several this year.
The company did not comment on whether the employee’s petition played a role in the decision to change the closing event.
- Advertisement -
The petition says organizers have filed a complaint with People Operations, Google’s human resources department, claiming that the venue violates one of Google’s event guidelines, which prohibits sexually explicit activity. The petition also demands an apology from the organizers and promoters of the event.
Some employees criticized the petition, saying the complaints were subjective and contributing to political culture wars, according to internal discussions watched by CNBC. Drag shows have been targeted by religious and conservative organizations and politicians in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election. That includes a stream of legislative proposals backed by GOP governors targeting drag events.
Employees also criticized Google’s leadership for what they perceived as quietly removing the event from its internal website and giving in to petitioner pressure. A company spokesperson said changes to the event were communicated to a resource group of team employees last week.
- Advertisement -
San Francisco locations host Pride events every June, which is recognized as Pride month, and those events usually include drag shows from various stage acts. Google is one of many corporate sponsors of a variety of Pride events, including fireside talks with influential figures and screenings of community documentaries for the public and employees.
The company’s Pride website contains several affirmations that support the LGBTQ community with statements such as “A Space to Belong,” writing that “a global closure will undermine our universal need for inclusive spaces that bring us together and celebrate belonging, reconfirmed”.