Tennessee Drag Ban Halted By Federal Judge

(Image via Reuters.com)

Staff Writer: Sakara De Gil-Balija

Email: sdegilbalija@umassd.edu

On Thursday, March 2nd, 2023, Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law to restrict public drag show performances in Tennessee. 

Memphis federal judge Thomas Parker recently halted the bill, claiming, “at this point, the court finds that the statute is likely both vague and overly broad.” 

The law, whose primary intent is to ban drag performances in public and in front of children, was set to go into effect this Saturday, April 8th, 2023. 

Since it is under review, the courts will hopefully overturn this law.

To recap, violators of this law would be charged with a misdemeanor, and repeat offenders would be charged with a felony. 

Simply performing in drag will be treated as seriously as reckless driving or assault and battery. 

To put this into a harsher perspective, the government will treat performing as a drag queen or king the same as murder.

According to CNN, “Republicans say the performances expose children to sexual themes and imagery that are inappropriate, a claim rejected by advocates, who say the proposed measures are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community and could violate First Amendment laws.”

Trixie Mattel, one of the most famous drag queens in the industry right now, took to her YouTube channel to speak about the drag ban. 

In the twenty-three-minute video, Mattel points out that “right now in Tennessee, I can get a gun and carry it around in public, but I can’t put on a fucking wig.”

(Image via thepinknews.com

Mattel continues, explaining, “my main concern is because drag is not definable, the way this is enforced is going to be completely up to interpretation. If Tyler Perry tours as ‘Madea’ in Tennessee, I guarantee you no one would try to put him in jail. I mean, because when straight people dress up for drag, no one cares. This bill is really designed to attack trans people and queer people. That’s what it’s designed to do.” 

Within days of the bill being passed, Reddit users were quick to post this image: a yearbook photo that seems to show Governor Bill Lee in drag. 

(Image via nbcnews.com)

 If proven, this image will be the defining image of hypocrisy – a man wanting to ban drag who partook in drag in high school. 

When asked about the image, Lee did not confirm nor deny that the person in the picture was him.

This ban is terrifying. 

It is unnecessary and further pushes the narrative that the LGBTQ+ community is dangerous to children. 

Multiple petitions have been made in an effort to stop these bans, with more sure to come in the future. 

You can sign them here:

Say “NO” To GOP Bills That Ban Drag Shows 

Stop Tennessee’s Attack on Drag Performances


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