Opinion: Drag isn’t dangerous


Drag Queen Vidalia Anne Gentry speaking out against drag ban bills. Photo credit: Sky News

Michelle Navarro, Copy Editor

Drag is a term used to describe the exaggerated performance of masculinity, femininity or other gender expressions. Recently, the Tennessee state senate passed a bill banning public drag show performances. 

This has brought confusion to the drag and LGBTQ+ community and has raised the question as to why the ban was necessary in the first place.

According to a CNN Politics article  “Tennessee becomes first state in 2023 to restrict drag performances, the bill passed prohibits “performances on public property … to shield from the view of children, threatening violators with a misdemeanor and repeat offenders with a felony.”

Despite the bill being designed to protect children, The Guardian reports that the majority of the audience that drag reaches are people from the ages of 18 to 49.

Tennessee state Sen. Jack Johnson, one of the sponsors of the Tennessee legislation, claimed that the bill is not meant to target a specific group of people.

“For clarification, this bill is not targeting any group of people. It does not ban drag shows in public. It simply puts age restrictions in place to ensure that children are not present at sexually explicit performances,” said Johnson. 

Although this is what the senator claims, if someone were to be in a public establishment with what seems to be categorized as “crossdressing makeup and clothing,” they could be in danger of a hate crime and getting a misdemeanor charge, a fine no larger than 1,000 dollars and a sentence no longer than a year.

Protester holding up a sign in favor of drag shows.
Photo credit: YWCA

This would overall raise the rates of hate crimes and create more danger towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Drag queens around the U.S. are speaking openly on how this will affect their community but also how this may be even more dangerous for the transgender community as well.

In a recent Youtube video, famous drag queen Trixie Mattel speaks on how this ban can also have an effect on other gendered communities and gives an example of a scenario in which someone can be mistaken for a drag queen. 

“So let’s say you are a trans female and you are out at a straight establishment with your friends and you have a bit of fake hair in and maybe you’re wearing some lashes. The uneducated news watcher might be like “ah it’s a drag queen”. This could happen, this will happen”, said Mattel.

She continued to say, “Drag queens are not going to be as affected by this as people who walk around in the world in expressions of gender that are not exactly what’s traditional.”

There have been multiple fundraisers to help support local drag queens or people in queer spaces. One of them being a live telethon called “Drag isn’t dangerous” which main purpose is to raise money for charitable LGBTQ+ causes supporting drag artists and transgender people.

These bills that are continuously being brought up more by conservative states are going to be doing more than affecting the drag community, but different gender conforming communities all around.