In its 99-year history, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has endured a helium shortage during World War II, a blizzard in 1989, and 40-mile-an-hour winds that shredded Barney to pieces in 1997. Now, according to some conservative activists, it will have to survive the “Nonbinary and Transgender Extravaganza” of 2023.
One Million Moms (1MM), a right-wing Christian media watchdog, which online trolls have ribbed with nicknames like “One Million Moms with Too Much Time on Their Hands,” is calling on Americans this year to boycott Macy’s, because in a few weeks it will be responsible for broadcasting a “non-binary and transgender extravaganza.”
“Unless they are forewarned about it, this year’s holiday parade will potentially expose tens of millions of viewers at home to the liberal LGBTQ agenda,” the group warns in a petition that’s been signed by almost 17,000 people.
The offending performances include musical numbers from & Juliet and Shucked, a pair of Broadway shows that feature transgender or nonbinary performers. 1MM is upset that the parade broadcast will give airtime to & Juliet performer Justin David Sullivan, who plays Juliet’s non-binary friend, May, onstage. Earlier this year, Sullivan opted out of consideration for a Tony until the award’s categories are updated to fit gender-nonconforming individuals.
1MM also isn’t a fan of the inclusion of Alex Newell, another nonbinary performer who won a Tony this year as the star of Shucked. “Newell, who uses all pronouns (he/she/they), has worn women’s clothes in recent public appearances and dressed in a shimmering, gold ball gown for the Tonys,” 1MM writes, adding: “This liberal nonsense will be broadcast live from New York on NBC, starting at 8:30 a.m. Eastern” (befuddling, for a group aiming to decrease viewership).
“My family and I will not watch this indoctrination,” reads the petition. “Macy’s has left conservative and Christian families with no choice but to avoid the parade and its stores, even during the holiday season.”
Mississippi-based 1MM has been teased for years for its preternatural ability to sniff out what it claims to be moral rot almost anywhere. In addition to “Say No to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” its current campaigns include attacks on Paw Patrol and business card maker VistaPrint. It once declared a boycott of Burger King for using the “d-word” in Impossible Whopper ads. (“Damn,” the objectionable line said, “that’s good.”) 1MM’s parent organization, American Family Foundation, states that it exists “to strengthen the moral foundations of American culture” by taking stands against things that could have “grave and eternal consequences,” such as Disney’s casting choices.
1MM was created to act as “the most powerful tool you have to stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity, and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children,” it claims. And that name turns out to be aspirational, as opposed to literal: “We are searching for one million moms who are willing to join the fight,” the website notes. Whatever the membership roster totals are, companies have still caved to 1MM’s protests, adjusting policies or canceling promotions sometimes for seemingly minor infractions.
Curiously though, this is the first year that 1MM and the America Family Foundation have felt a need to boycott Macy’s. Its CEO, Jeff Gannette, has been out as gay since coming aboard in 1983. And the Thanksgiving Day parade is an annual event famously in league with Broadway theater, having featured countless exceptional performances over the years by LGBTQ celebrities who managed to sing, dance, and strut their way down Midtown Manhattan.
Some of those incidents made waves at the time. Three-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein made national news for cross-dressing as Mrs. Claus in 2003, the year the American Family Foundation and fellow conservative activist group, Focus on the Family, were busy calling for a boycott of Abercrombie & Fitch for “using blatant pornography in its quarterly catalog.” Abercrombie discontinued the racy catalog months later, claiming “we just launched a new perfume called Now, and we had to make space on the counter.”
In 2018, actresses Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla kissed while performing a song from the Broadway musical, The Prom, leading the Christian Post to write, “The Macy’s Thanksgiving parade has been known to be a wholesome celebration that families enjoyed together every year, but this year’s parade is drawing attention for its first controversial public display of same-sex relations,” before going on to warn readers that Macy’s parade “is not the only place same-sex relations have been promoted to young people” lately.
But apparently, that wasn’t boycott-worthy to 1MM. Nor was the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band reaching what it jubilantly declared was “the mountaintop” in 2020, marching as the parade’s first openly LGBTQ group, or pop star Kim Petras performing as its first transgender celebrity the following year.