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Predictably, GOP politicians banning drag shows have had stints as drag queens
They claim in their cases it was all just done in fun. But that's the reason why anyone does drag. Yet again, Republican hypocrisy on full display.
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At this point it doesn’t come as a great shocker — though you’d think politicians would care about what’s hiding in plain sight in their own past — but two GOP elected officials supporting bans or regulations on drag shows have now turned out to have donned sexy drag outfits in public themselves in the past.
Part of a GOP crusade to demonize LGBTQ people and push the “groomer” smear about transgender people and gay men, these Republican men turn out to have been obsessed with drag going way back.
First we had Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee, set to sign the first bill in the United States to restrict drag performances, revealed last week to have done drag in high school — with a glaring photo of him in the yearbook, with his cheerleader skirt jacked way up.
Lee professed disbelief that anyone could equate what he did with what drag queens in nightclubs are doing. But no one can find any difference — except that he’s a straight man, and a Republican governor trying to demonize queer people for political gain.
“What a ridiculous question that is!” Lee lashed out in faux anger at a reporter who asked about his 1977 yearbook photo. “Conflating something to sexualized entertainment in front of children.”
But most drag queens are not performing in front of children — they’re in bars and nightclubs that serve alcohol, and where no one under 21 is permitted — while Lee’s photo is in the damned high school yearbook, which, last I remember, is a read by high school teens and other kids.
And of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with children seeing drag queens, and if the charge that drag is “sexualized” because the clothes are sometimes sexy, well, then children should be banned from seeing many scantily clad cisgender women on TV, in music videos, on social media, in movies or on the streets. (Though at this point the GOP seems ready to put women in burkas if they had their way.)
The entire thing is ludicrous, but dangerous. What about Pride events? Will drag queens not be allowed in parades in Tennessee because, per the law, drag performances are banned wherever minors might see them? How are authorities going to distinguish between drag queens and many transgender people — or many cisgender men who happen to wear skirts or cisgender women who happen to wear suits, ties and top hats? Is there going to be a morality police, as in Saudi Arabia and Iran, who will arrest anyone attired in a way that violates Tennessee’s Christian nationalist rulers?
This nationwide crusade has already led to threatening confrontations, with the violent white supremacist Proud Boys descending on drag shows across the country. A law like this will only further put LGBTQ people in danger throughout Tennessee, targeted by vigilantes — homophobes and transphobes — determined to stop them from breaking the law.
Governor Lee is not the only hypocrite giving his own drag stint an exemption. (And it’s interesting that they seem to love exemptions for straight men doing drag, while they’re opposed to exemptions for people needing, say, abortions.) A Texas legislator sponsoring an anti-drag bill was also exposed this week as a former dragster, when a video surfaced of him prancing and dancing in a public park years ago, again in a low-cut dress cut well above the knee.
And in a place where kids would surely see him.
A video that surfaced on Twitter and TikTok this week appears to show Texas state Rep. Nate Schatzline, a Republican, skipping, running and dancing in a park while donning a black sequined dress and a red eye mask. At the end of the roughly 90-second video — which plays over the song “Sexy Lady” by Javi Mula — the four participants are named, including Schatzline, whose character is called “The Virgin.”
Schatzline, like Lee, believes he should be exempt. It was just a “joke,” he said, and part of a “theater project.”
So, he was having fun, and performing — I mean, that’s what theater is, right? — just like every single drag queen in the world. They’re performers, and they’re having fun. And many aren’t dressed as scantily as Schlatzline, nor doing drag in a public park.
The bill Schatzline is pushing would regulate drag performances, barring minors, and it defines a drag performance as such:
A performance in which a performer exhibits a gender identity that is different than the performer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, or other physical markers and sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience for entertainment.
Which is exactly what Schatzline was doing in the park.
Brace yourself: We are no doubt going to see more photos of Republicans in drag.
And let’s not forget Rudy Giuliani — who did drag for a skit in the ‘90s, and none other than Donald Trump kissed him and called Giuliani “beautiful.” I’m pretty sure that counts as “sexualizing.” And I’m also sure millions of kids watched the YouTube video.
And there’s newly-elected fabricator and fantasist George Santos, who performed in drag competitions in Brazil. The GOP seems not to have a problem with that — nor anything else Santos has done, including lying and stealing.
The anti-drag attacks are clearly falling flat with the vast majority of the American public — which, like the rest of the world, has loved drag since the beginning of time — as some of the attackers now turn out to be one-time drag queens. It all would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous, inspiring violence, putting lives at risk, censoring LGBTQ Americans, demonizing transgender people and promoting blatant discrimination.
Democrats and much of the media haven’t taken this seriously enough. And it’s time for that to change.