Renée Greenbean began taking precautions in public even before the Tennessee legislature approved a law in March restricting where “adult cabaret” can take place.
Mr. Greenbean observes tightening laws restricting LGBTQ rights, spending nights at restaurants with his wife, children and grandchildren, and favoring masculine clothing and short-cropped hair that invite harassment. I was worried that So she fears the new law will make it less safe for her to continue her own creative endeavors of wearing a dazzling jacket and transforming herself into drag king El Rey several nights a week. I couldn’t help it.
If a federal judge allows the law to take effect in the next few weeks, adult cabaret performances, as defined in the law (including those with “male or female impersonations”), will not be permitted to be seen on public premises or by children. be banned in places. Greenbean, 46, won’t be able to stop showing at adult-only clubs in Clarksville and other clubs near the Kentucky border.
Still, she and other performers said they now feel far more dangerous to be seen doing drugs in public. The law, and others like it, were enacted in response to far-right activists increasingly targeting drag shows across the country. With members of the Proud Boys And other protesters sometimes heavily armed, Appearing in shows and storytelling times at the library, drag performers read to children.
Greenbean said of the law, “There’s a scary element to it because it gives people the right to hate.”
judge temporarily blocked The law is set to take effect in late March after a Memphis theater company challenged the constitutionality of the law, but the passage of the law has caused fear and confusion among drag performers, even if the law is overturned. is unlikely to disappear.
A ruling could be handed down as early as this week, but the law also disrupts plans for entertainment venues, performers and event organizers preparing for Pride Month celebrations. Many Pride Month celebrations are held on city streets and other public places. Such events appear to be prime targets of the law, along with drug brunches for all ages at a handful of venues across the state.
Groups planning a Pride celebration are either: Limit participants to adults Tennessee, as well as Florida, Montana, Texas and Arkansas, passed similar laws earlier this year banning live performances under the lawmaker’s definition of inappropriate.
With pride parades and festivals proliferating across the country and drugs gaining a firm foothold in the mainstream media, the law is fueling a backlash from conservatives. Popular reality show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ has cast many artists in movies, TV shows and musicals, and retail giants such as Target and Walmart are the focus of renewed protests ahead of Pride Month. We sell LGBTQ products that are.
Despite growing recognition in mainstream culture, many supporters of anti-drug bills debated in more than a dozen states this year believe drug performance is too mature for young people or has deep religious values. He believes that it is in direct opposition to Kan, and claims that it is necessary. to draw a line.
The most vocal critics of drugs have always characterized them as sexual. However, as audiences have expanded, many drag artists say they have adapted their performances to make them more suitable for public events such as drug brunches and pride parades that children may attend. .
“Drug performers were already regulating themselves,” says Mid-South Pride chairman Vanessa Rodley. “There was no need for the government to come and regulate.”
Despite the pending law, Rodley spent weeks reviewing the costumes and music for dozens of drag artists slated to perform at the Mid-South Pride festival in Memphis next month. To avoid photos and video clips that were taken out of context and could be used to suggest suspicious behavior in front of children, she also performed onstage, as is common in drag shows. It also ruled out the exchange of clothes and the receiving of chips by hand.
The Tennessee law stemmed last year from a dispute in the city of Jackson, between Memphis and Nashville, in which two state legislators and some members of a local church were banned during the city’s annual Pride Festival. filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to stop drag shows at the park. . The settlement restricted event participants to those 18 and older.
Shortly after, one member of Congress, State Representative Chris Todd, proposed a bill criminalizing adult cabaret in certain settings. A first-time offense under the law is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine. Subsequent offenses are felonies, punishable by up to six years in prison and fines of up to $3,000.
Adam Dooley, pastor of Inglewood Baptist Church in Jackson, testified in favor of this year’s Tennessee bill, saying adults “have every right” to see drag performances, but “they don’t have children.” We have no right to demand that they be present.” And frankly, I wonder if there is some sinister motive for asking children to attend. “
Opponents and proponents of the law say the law reflects what happened decades ago. Anti-LGBTQ Defamation by suggesting that the performer preys on children.
Benjamin Slinkard, who plays Kennedy Ann Scott, the resident drag queen of Nashville’s Lipstick Lounge, says he doesn’t think the motive for the law has anything to do with protecting minors. rice field. I think sharing it with the world scares people who only see the world from one perspective. “
The crackdown on drag performance upends a deep history of drag art in the South, which began long before it became mainstream in the region’s largest red-light district.
Founder and Director Sarah Callies Nashville’s Queer HistoryAccording to a project dedicated to the history of the city’s LGBTQ community, drag began in the area primarily with white men appearing as women in 19th-century minstrel blackface shows, then expanded to vaudeville and then LGBTQ clubs. It is said that
Since then, even though Tennessee has become the birthplace of the now 51-year-old drag contest Miss Gay America, performers were required to carry identification and their clubs were threatened by police and arsonists. witnessed becoming a target of
Many drag artists now have resumes Sprinkled with glitzy titles and Nashville music stars, it also lip-syncs and dances on variety shows and weekend brunch with bachelorette party groups.
During the interview, some of the performers reflected on how drugs were an antidote to the loneliness and pain they experienced as children, at a time when religious beliefs and conservative communities shunned LGBTQ people. . Many performers who have seen their families struggle to understand their sexual and gender identities, or their passion for drag, tell their children not to use drag, even in family-friendly routines. We accept that some parents may be reluctant to show us.
Miami Miller, a drag performer who takes care of her young nephew for her earnings from performing at Memphis club Atomic Rose, said the boy “knows what I’m doing and loves me.” I am very proud,” he said. Mx participated in a drag show for the first time on Mother’s Day this month. According to Miller, the boy marveled at the performance of the performers. We spent the rest of the day talking about transformation.
“When I am with my child, I am like any other parent,” says Mx. Miller said. “I try to keep everything in order around my children.”
As Congress scrambles to define what kinds of live entertainment are inappropriate for minors, what’s being overlooked is learning about self-expression and acceptance for children who experience drag. It’s a parent’s right to think it’s beneficial, several artists said.
Slade Kyle, 43, said, “For a child like me who knew from an early age that he was different, he found himself in someone else and knew he had a future. It would have been powerful,” he said. She works as show director and host of Atomic Rose, Bella Dubor, and is now one of the most outspoken drag performers in the state.
At a recent all-ages brunch at Atomic Rose, Dubor discussed challenges in elementary school before taking nine-year-old fan Elizabeth to dance.
Her father, Seth Bolin, 33, recalled first refusing and then hugging because his father was gay and a drag performer in Memphis. Taking her daughter to a drag show was an opportunity for her to set an example of acceptance and let her know that “we will support her” no matter what adulthood she becomes, Bowlin said. said.
In Clarksville, Green Bean and his wife, Lisette, will continue to perform several nights a week for the time being, with the support of their children, dancing together, and being alone in places that feel like escapism from the world. He said he was going to be in the spotlight. expectations.
“Sometimes I wonder what kind of mother society and people want you to be,” said Lisette, 43. “Drugs is where it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be your typical everyday label.”