Artists organise to oppose the Tennessee anti-drag law
The first US state to pass legislation outlawing drag performances in public areas and locations where kids could view them is Tennessee.
Similar bills have begun appearing alongside the one signed by Republican Tennessee Governor Bill Lee in other Republican-ruled states including Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia, Nebraska, and Texas.
The new law has had a significant impact on the LGBTQ community in the US and has caused conflict between conservative hardliners and liberal LGBTQ rights activists.
In place prior to the next Pride Month
The Tennessee legislation demonstrates how resistant American conservatives are to drag performances. The law doesn't even use the word "drag" once. Instead, the sanitised phrase "adult cabaret performances" is used to describe acts by people who are either males or women but are dressed as the other sex.
NPR reported on March 2 that the prohibition would also put Pride celebrations on the defensive: "In the sweltering summers of Tennessee, drag is a mainstay. The measure was covertly changed in January to take effect on April 1, which is before June's Pride month, even though new laws generally take effect on July 1."
Governor Bill Lee asserts that there won't be any discrimination and that the bill's only purpose is "kid safety."
Several bill supporters claim that drag performances are "damaging" or confusing to youngsters. Conservative groups think that drag leads to the "sexualization" or "grooming" of youngsters.
Chris Todd, a Republican who supported the legislation in Tennessee, even linked drag to "kid abuse."
Queen of drag RuPaul criticises the prohibition.
In the LGBTQ community, such thinking is regarded with incomprehension.
Activists harshly oppose the new legislation and similar laws in other states, calling them racist, anti-democratic, and in violation of the constitution. They worry that the regulations would encourage more homophobic harassment and violent crimes against gay people.
RuPaul, one of the most well-known drag queens in the world, responded to the ban by calling the legislators "stunt queens" who "look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective" while really trying to divert the public "away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs, healthcare, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school," the host of the reality series "RuPaul's Drag Race," said in an Instagram post.
Drag is an acceptable medium for creative expression.
Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, a specialist in culture and gender studies at the University of Michigan, concurs that drag events pose no harm to anybody. In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, La Fountain-Stokes continued, "Drag is a valid creative expression that brings people together, that entertains, that enables certain people to discover who they are, and that allows all of us to have a really wonderful time. It is "not a danger to anyone. Drag discrimination or criminalization in 2023 is absurd."
The Human Rights Campaign, the biggest Gay civil rights group in the US, also expressed their opinions on Twitter. "Everyone has the right to expression. Drag is accessible to everyone "as stated by the organisation in a post. "Instead of addressing actual concerns, Tennessee politicians continue to adopt more anti-LGBTQ+ legislation than any other state in the nation. Our neighbourhood won't be marginalised or forgotten."
Cyndi Lauper makes a Nazi Germany comparison.
Among the celebrities coming out against the new legislation being enacted by Republicans aiming to outlaw drag performers are The B-52s and Cyndi Lauper.
The B-52s stated in a statement that it is "wrong that in the 21st century, we are seeing such obvious efforts to undermine the rights of people based on their gender identity and sexual orientation. "These measures create a corrosive culture of hatred and intolerance that has no place in our society. They also violate the affected persons' basic human rights."
"Just weeding everyone out," Cyndi Lauper stated, alluding to how homosexuals were persecuted during the Nazis. "This is how Hitler began," she said.
Next soon is an all-star charity concert
A benefit event titled "Love Rising" is scheduled for March 20 in Nashville, Tennessee, with the proceeds going to various equality movement organisations in the US state. Sheryl Crow, Maren Morris, Jason Isbell, Hayley Williams, Brittany Howard, Julien Baker, and many more are scheduled to perform.
In his Oscar acceptance speech on March 12, "Everything Everywhere All At Once" co-director Daniel Scheinert also subtly addressed the anti-drag and anti-LGBTQ laws sweeping Tennessee, dedicating it to "the mommies, all the mommies in the world, to our moms," and more particularly to his mother and father: "I want to thank you for not stifling my creativity while I was creating really distressing horror movies, extremely pornographic comedies, or masquerading as a drag child, which is not a danger to anybody!" When Scheinert spoke, the crowd applauded.
Drag shows are a staple of American culture.
Cross-dressing and drag performances have long established part of the cultural mainstream in the United States.
Pioneers from the 1950s include well-known TV personality Milton Berle, often known as "Uncle Miltie," who performed on TV in a cross-dress as part of his comedic act.
Drag queens from all over the nation are now fighting for the title of "America's Next Drag Superstar" on the reality TV series "RuPaul's Drag Race," which has been aired since 2009. The programme, now in its fifteenth season, has grown to cult status.
The Drag Story Hour, an occasion where drag queens read stories to children at libraries, schools, and bookshops, as well as drag brunches at restaurants, are both much-liked.
Bill Lee is charged with hypocrisy.
When it was revealed that Governor Bill Lee will sign the anti-drag legislation, a picture of him from his high school yearbook looking like a cheerleader quickly gained popularity on social media.
Later, when asked about the picture, Lee told reporters that it was just "a light-hearted school tradition" and that anybody who objected to it was "stupid" for doing so since it was "sexualized entertainment in front of youngsters, which is a very serious matter."
For Tennessee drag artist Hella Skeleton, this indicates that Lee doesn't even comprehend what type of statute he signed. "On the NPR podcast "This is Nashville," Skeleton said: "Apparently when straight males dress up horribly in drag, that's Alright. A lot of drags are incredibly entertaining. Yet, it is not acceptable when gay, lesbian, and trans individuals do it."