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Anti-Drag Bills by Meaningful Movie HS Member, Abby

by April 15, 2023 1

In a country where seemingly anything from hair color to shoe brand can be a source of political tension, the curtain seemingly never falls without at least a few tomatoes thrown. From the latest law in Tennessee to Ron DeSantis’ policies, 2023 has left drag artists and their supporters confused and scared for the future of drag and gender expression as a whole.

This year, on March 2, Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee, signed Senate Bill 3, which was set to officially take effect on April 1. This bill prevents male or female impersonators, among other artists under the classification of “adult cabaret performances,” from performing in public spaces where minors could see them. Activists have quickly identified this law as one of many recent laws targeting the LGBTQ community. Additionally, many have expressed fear that the public gender expression of the trans community and gender non-conforming individuals will be at risk under this legislation. 

On March 31, just hours before it was meant to go into effect, the bill was temporarily blocked for at least 14 days by Judge Thomas L. Parker. The judge wrote in the order that “[i]f Tennessee wishes to exercise its police power in restricting speech it considers obscene, it must do so within the constraints and framework of the United States Constitution.” Parker said the bill was vague and overly broad, pointing out the unclear location specifications of a venue that could be viewed by a minor. He also noted that it violated rights protected by the first amendment. Activists are surprised that this was done by a Trump-appointed judge, but regardless are thankful that the bill is not in effect. 

The Tennessee bill, however, is only one of many attacks on the LGBTQ community. On March 14, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis revoked the liquor license of the Hyatt Regency Miami hotel over accusations that minors attended a holiday drag show at the James L. Knight Center. Other venues, including R House and the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation, may also lose their liquor licenses due to complaints made by the DeSantis administration.

Recent news headlines show a clear pattern of conservative politicians’ efforts to ban drag performances and attack drag culture as a whole under the premise that it is “immoral” and “inappropriate” for children. Responses in support of drag performances and the LGBTQ community, such as protests and outrage on social media, have met these efforts with equal or greater enthusiasm. Despite the targeted political attacks and many thrown tomatoes, the curtain has not been and will likely never be drawn on the art of drag.


This article was written by a member of the Meaningful Movies High School Group, Abby.

Photo Credit: Cottonbro Studio

Photo Credit: Greta Hoffman


1 Comment so far

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  1. NiNi
    #1 NiNi 19 April, 2023, 20:57

    Movies depicting drag have entertained people through the years. This assault has nothing to do with drag and everything to do with hate. This article is well researched and well written.

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