Hiding Queens in Tennessee



Three drag queens posing for a photo. Legislation is being sent through the courts in many states that may prohibit drag performances in public spaces.

Jessica Arnold, Video Manager

Bridgewater, Va.-  In the state of Tennessee, a bill was recently signed into law which will restrict drag shows from occurring in areas where children may be present, causing debates on the appropriateness of drag for minors, LGBTQ+ issues and free speech. 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, drag can be defined as “entertainment in which performers caricature or challenge gender stereotypes (as by dressing in clothing that is stereotypical of another gender, by using exaggeratedly gendered mannerisms, or by combining elements of stereotypically male and female dress) and often wear elaborate or outrageous costumes.”

The bill in Tennessee, and others like it, come following a rise in discussion about libraries hosting drag queen story hours, in which drag performers read books to children. 

Senior Adam Lorfink sees no problem with drag queen story hours, and suggests he would take his children to them if he had any. 

“I’d take them. I think they’re really cool, and they’re getting a lot of unnecessary hate in the media for no reason,” said Lorfink. 

Sophomore Latham Jackson holds an opposing opinion, not minding drag shows in general, but thinking it should be kept separate from children. 

“I simply feel that drag entertainment is for adults. If teenagers end up seeing drag shows on a TV show, that’s fine, but young kids going to an actual show, whether it’s for kids or not, I don’t think is a good thing,” said Jackson. “I thought this was something we all agreed on.”

Similarly to Jackson, many believe that drag is made for adult entertainment, which is the reason for this kind of legislation moving through the courts in several states, including West Virginia, Missouri, South Carolina, Arizona and more. 

“I feel like if you’re going to keep drag out of public spaces, then there’s a long list of things that you should also keep out of public spaces,” said Lorfink.

Some states have hefty sentences associated with violations of these laws, like in Arizona. According to an article by Time, this could land drag queens in prison for ten or more years, as well as force them to register as sex offenders if a person under the age of 15 is present at their performance.

“I think that’s crazy, because as a performer, you don’t control who comes to your performance, so that is not their fault. Plus, ten years in prison and being on the sex offender list seems so extreme,” said sophomore Abby Nester.

BC Allies hosted a drag show in Cole Hall last spring featuring queens from the Harrisonburg area, and there will be another drag show this year on April 15. 

“I do think everyone should maybe go to one at a built-for-drag location just to get a taste for it, but I think people should be allowed to choose,” said Jackson. “At the end of the day, people who want to go see drag shows are going to go see drag shows, and those who don’t want to still aren’t going to.”