The Right's Ridiculous War on Drag
Forget about school shooters and pedophile priests.
Apparently, drag queens are America’s Public Enemy #1.
Yes, you read that right. At least, that’s what the GOP wants you to think.
Lawmakers recently introduced 14 bills seeking to restrict or criminalize drag in eight states, including (what a shock) Texas, Florida, and Arizona, the “three stooges” of American states.
What’s triggering these conservatives? “Drag Queen Story Hours.”
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis recently revoked the liquor license of the Hyatt Miami because it hosted a Christmas-themed drag show.
Tennessee has made it a crime not only to perform in drag on public property or anywhere a child might see, but it’s a felony if you do it more than once.
In other words, Tennessee State Police could show up at Pride celebrations in the state and arrest anyone they deem “in drag.”
It’d be wildly laughable if it didn’t feel like something out of late 1930s Germany.
Why the sudden nonsensical attack on drag artists, an art form that’s been around since Shakespeare’s day?
Because conservatives can no longer target LGBTQ. They want to, God knows. But they know they can’t directly attack us these days without getting serious blowback from our allies and families.
So who can they target to fuel their ridiculous “culture wars”? To trigger their base’s homophobia? To distract from their failures on crime, climate change, inflation, guns? To keep their voters from seeing the GOP’s own corruption?
Story-telling drag queens (and kings), of course!
Gee, I feel safer already! Don’t you?
If these states were truly so concerned about children, why is child marriage still legal in most of them? (Look it up if you don't believe me!)
Never mind that school shootings, lack of education, food insecurity, climate change, and poverty are the true threats to our children. The GOP is, as always, in total denial about those very real dangers.
Instead, they simply must save the kids from drag-queen story hours!
If you think it will stop here, you're dead wrong. Need proof? Florida's toxic DeSantis just announced his "Don't Say Gay!" rule -- originally enacted to "protect" grade-school kids -- will now be expanded to prohibit free speech in junior-high and high schools in his state as well!
The GOP longs to return to the "good old days"
I'm not one bit surprised.
No, the GOP is just beginning. How far will they take their new war?
Will they make it illegal to screen films like Tootsie, Victor/Victoria, and Mrs. Doubtfire without an "X" rating? Will high schools be forbidden to perform Charly’s Aunt? Will M. Butterfly become verboten for opera companies? Will Tyler Perry need to find a new career?
See how ridiculous these Republicans truly are?
I asked my good friend, San Francisco superstar and self-proclaimed “male actress” Matthew Martin, known for his spot-on impersonations of Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Peggy Lee, and more, to weigh in on this ridiculous assault against drag and drag performers.
Matthew’s one of the most honorable people I know. I’ve never heard him say a single negative word about anyone in over 20 years. So naturally, he was hesitant to speak out. But he finds these new bans “ridiculous,” and went on to say:
“For God’s sake, it [drag] has been entertaining audiences for centuries. No well-known comedian or actor has not played a female part. Laurence Olivier was lauded for his female Shakespearian roles. Some Like It Hot is still the number-one comedy of all time.”
The many faces of Matthew Martin
Drag queens do a lot of good works. And not just with the story hours that entertain kids but trigger conservatives. Take San Francisco’s “Emperor and Empress” pageants, for example. The “Imperial Court System” is a grassroots network of organizations that works to “build community relationships for equality and raise money for charitable causes through the production of their annual Gala Coronation Balls.” Some of the charities that benefit include the AIDS Emergency Fund, American Association of Political Consultants, and the Horizon Foundation.
The typically clueless GOP underestimates its new targets. Drag queens do not run from a fight.
After all, there would be no modern-day gay rights movement if not for the queens (and trans women) who fought back against police aggression at Stonewall in 1969.
Ask the Proud Boys. They showed up last week to protest a Drag Queen Story Hour in Manhattan. Some were bloodied and arrested after queens and their allies confronted them; others fled the scene in fear!
Our drag queens are strong, resilient, independent, and brave. If you ask me, we should celebrate them, because these qualities make them undeniably American!
“But the children!!!”
Again, this isn’t really about kids. The sight of a six-foot rodent in a bow tie doesn’t traumatize them at Disneyland. Hell, they practice active-shooter drills at school. But we’re supposed to believe children will be forever scarred by the sight of a man dressed like a woman (or vice versa) reading a story?
One Halloween several years ago, I squeezed into my Wonder Woman costume to greet the throngs of trick-or-treaters. Of the hundreds of kids who came to our door, only one girl commented on the fact that I was a guy in drag.
“You’re a dude,” she stated matter-of-factly. “Why are you dressed as a girl?”
“Because it’s Halloween,” I replied. “This is one day when we can dress up as whoever we admire, and I admire Wonder Woman!”
"But you're still a dude!"
"Yes, I am!"
The girl smiled, shrugged, and that was that.
Behind her, her mother mouthed the words “Thank you!” to me. Then they moved on to our neighbor’s house.
I’m sure that girl will be in psychotherapy the rest of her life because of our interaction!
Laurence & Charlie, our neighbor Ruth, and a drag queen terrorizing children on Halloween
These absurdist, hateful laws flagrantly violate the Constitution’s promise of freedom of expression. Therefore, they must eventually be struck down in our courts.
What do we do until then?
Go to a drag show! Attend your local library’s drag-queen story hour!
Call and email your representatives and tell them to cut the shit & focus on the real issues!
And if you’re really brave, slap on some guy-liner, slip into a pair of pumps, and go on vacation in Tennessee – but take your lawyer with you!
If you enjoyed this blog, and would like to read more pieces like it, check out my new book Expletives Not Deleted, coming May 30, 2023 in paperback, e-book & audio book!
Pre-order the e-book now at Amazon!