Tennessee governor Bill Lee signed two worrying bills that will make public drag performances illegal.
HB 9 and SB 3 are two bills that will make drag, among other things, considered an “adult cabaret performance on public property” a criminal offense. The performances considered adult cabaret are “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators, or similar entertainers.”
According to Kiara Alfonseca of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Sen. Jack Johnson, who sponsored SB 3, celebrated as it was going to Lee’s desk. “This bill gives confidence to parents that they can take their kids to a public or private show and will not be blindsided by a sexualized performance,” Lee said in a tweet.
This bill is not a celebratory matter. It is damaging towards the public perception of drag performances and the LGBTQ+ community.
There is nothing inherently sexual about drag performances. They can be enjoyed by anyone, and one was even enjoyed at Keene State on Oct. 8, 2022. Many states are trying to ban drag performances, and it would be such a shame if New Hampshire became one of them.
Lee claims that SB 3 is intended to protect children and families, but there is absolutely no danger that comes from drag performances.
HB 9 and SB 3 are clear violations of the First Amendment. They violate the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly. The government should not be able to trample on the rights granted to us in the Constitution.
According to Kaelan Deese of the Washington Examiner, “Under the law, so-called adult cabaret performances are banned within 1,000 feet of schools, houses of worship, or public parks. Those violating the law may be subject to a misdemeanor charge carrying up to a $2,500 fine and one year in prison. Repeat offenders will incur a felony and carry one to six years of prison time and fines up to $3,000.”
This is an incredibly concerning and harsh punishment for something that is not even a problem to begin with.
According to ABC, “Lee also signed a bill banning transgender healthcare for people under the age of 18. Right-wing and conservative backlash against drag shows and the transgender community has prompted legislative restrictions on both groups.”
It is quite clear that the new bills in Tennessee are not for the protection of children, but are in fact being signed due to transphobia. There are so many lies about transgender people and drag performers grooming minors. These lies are reactionary, as many people do not understand the transgender and drag communities.
Instead of passing legislation against the transgender and drag communities, we as a society should be promoting a better understanding of them. Many people fear what they do not know and it would be very beneficial if we educated more people about the transgender and drag communities.
We need to evolve past the outdated fears of the LGBTQ+ community and embrace the progress that is necessary for us to flourish as a society. We cannot keep looking for something to blame all of our problems on, we just need to accept things the way they are.
Nico Brazill can be contacted at