Rep. Santos stokes outrage with video of drag act at HS in his district. Turns out, performer is a student.
He quietly deleted it. But not before @LibsofTikTok re-posted.
Congressman George Santos posted a screenshot of a video to his Instagram Sunday evening from a recent drag performance at Great Neck North High School. It showed a performer in a long blonde wig and a tight black outfit doing a handstand, along with the caption: “This insane performance took place in a high school in my district. This is NOT what education looks like! Don’t forget while the left wants you to be talking about nonsense they push in the media … this is what they expose your kids too [sic] when your [sic] are distracted and not looking! #saveourkids.”
Shortly thereafter, he separately posted the video of the performance.
The absolute farce of drag being harmful for children on top of his own personal history of dressing in drag aside, there was one other glaring problem with Santos’ story: The performer is a kid. A kid who attends the school.
Two hours after Santos posted the video, it was shared once more—this time on Twitter by the notorious LGBTQ+ hate account Libs of TikTok. Chaya Raichik, who created and runs the account, posted with the caption “Great Neck North High School in NY reportedly held a drag show last week with students in attendance. The drag queen performed a sexual dance and spread his legs for students.”
Raichik has played a central role in drumming the moral panic against drag performers, often posting details of drag events so her 2.1 million followers can decide if they’d like to take matters in their own hands.
In a written statement shared with The Handbasket by an external PR rep, Great Neck schools confirmed the performance was part of a “coffee house” event this past Saturday night.
“This annual Coffee House, that has been held at the High School for over 20 years, is a voluntary, extra-curricular social event formatted as an open mic night for High School students. The event provides a forum for students’ individuality and expression.”
Administrators would not elaborate on how the school plans to address the issue. Great Neck Board of Education President Rebecca Sassouni, however, had some words for Santos.
“What kind of judgment does the congressman have that he thought it was a good idea to share that video and expose that child in our school district to this kind of scorn?” Sassouni told The Handbasket. “That child has received, from what I'm told, threats and death threats. This school district does not need to be put in this negative light for having a talent show. Why is it that a sitting US congressman evidently has nothing better to do?”
Sassouni, who’s up for reelection on May 16th, said she doesn’t know who provided the video to Santos. She added that the safety and security of all students is the board’s priority.
While the Libs of TikTok tweet is still live on Twitter—with 1.4 million views and counting—Santos quietly deleted both the screenshot and the video post from his Instagram on Monday without explanation. But he tweeted Tuesday afternoon, “Drag is adult entertainment, and it is not appropriate in our schools.” with a link to a local news article. He has not publicly acknowledged the fact that the drag performer to whom he’s referring is a minor student. Request for comment from his office has not been returned.
It’s possible that Santos realized he screwed up in multiple ways. To state the obvious, he posted a video recorded on school grounds of a minor without consent. And on top of it, if you watched until the very end of his video post, you may have noticed he inadvertently shared a private Instagram messenger conversation. The names of the individuals are not visible, but you can see one of their avatars. And it took all of 30 seconds to find the matching avatar in Santos’ followers and identify him as Emil Hakimi, a Great Neck North parent.
“Screen record please,” Hakimi instructed the recipient after sharing the video. “On it,” the recipient replies. “I’m gonna send it to everyone.” It is unclear if the recipient is Santos himself, or if the version he posted was screen recorded by someone else.
Hakimi is a former school board candidate who wrote in an op-ed published before election day that he was, “inspired to run in order to be a voice for parents who are extremely concerned about the introduction of socio-political indoctrination into our children’s curriculum and instruction.” Another parent in the district recalled him saying during his campaign that “Similar to how Florida defies Biden…we are gonna turn Great Neck into our little slice of Florida.”
I reached out to Hakimi Sunday night via Instagram and Wednesday via email but have not heard back. He’s a sitting board member of the United Mashadi Jewish Community of America which is headquartered in Great Neck, and to which Santos has close ties. Mehran Hakimian, a fellow board member, was one of Santos’ most generous 2022 donors.
According to a December Jewish Insider, Santos was given a warm welcome to the Persian Jewish community in Great Neck. “That’s my second home,” he told the publication of the community. “They’re fantastic to me. I go to Shabbat with them, I go to temple with them.”
Naturally, the video shared by Santos and Libs of TikTok has set off a firestorm in the community.
In screenshots from a private community parent Facebook group shared with The Handbasket, one father writes: “So be honest, why does this bother you? Grooming? You're worried that this child's performance might "turn your son gay"? Besides the fact that you can't ‘turn’ a kid gay, ask yourself what you will do when your child wants to express his or herself but fears your reaction so much that, at best, they are forced into a secret life in fear.”
He added: “At worst, they harm themselves, as is so often the case with kids who fear self expression because of their own parents.”
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