Drag show features performers with Down syndrome; critics call it exploitive

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD/CNN) - As outside protestors held up their signs, a controversial drag show featuring performers with Down syndrome and other disabilities went on as scheduled Saturday.

Protesters claim a drag show starring people with Down syndrome is exploitation, but organizers disagree. (Source: WOOD/Drag Syndrome Show/Facebook/CNN)

Organizers of Drag Syndrome are proud of the art form, but critics believe it’s exploitive.

Many demonstrators held signs that read “stop exploiting” and “love them, do not exploit them.”

"Do they really have full reason and understanding of what they're participating in?" protestor Doug Murphy asked.

Tom Root, a fellow protester and father of a 34-year-old son with Down syndrome, said this fight is personal.

"That's why am here, so I can enlighten other people as to my experiences with my son," Root explained.

Drag Syndrome proved to be a polarizing performance, with neither side willing to back down.

Even so, the performers said they were being their best selves.

“It feels great to show them my talent and what I’m good at,” Justin Bond said.

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