During my tenure as a pastor in Northern Virginia, I remember seeing photos of a church event in the 1950s in which 25 men dressed in drag for a “fashion show.” It was held in the Fellowship Hall and a note by one of the old photos says, “Oh well – – it’s been fun and we ourselves have got some good laughs. And got to know each other better. We’ll just cross our fingers and hope the audience gets a laugh out of our theatrical attempts.”
In the 1950s, this was considered good clean fun, albeit just a little bit sexist. Men dressing as women is different from white people dressing as black people or anyone dressing as Nazis. I get that.
What I honestly don’t understand is why so many people consider dressing in drag so threatening today.
- There’s legislation in Arkansas about banning drag events on public property or “within 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) of churches, schools, parks and libraries.”
- Tennessee is considering similar legislation. “This is a common-sense child safety bill,” says one state legislator.
- The Governor of Missouri expressed concern that middle school students in Columbia “were subjected to adult performers during what is historically a MLK day celebration… Parents weren’t clearly informed of the contents of the program, and adult performances are not diversity.”
Clearly drag events – including bingo nights and story times – are considered “adult performances” that confuse children and teens. Just as clearly though, in my mind, is that the Super Bowl is coming up and these same leaders have no problem with cheerleaders even though their performances might also confuse children and teens into thinking that women’s bodies are for entertainment.
Can someone explain why professional cheerleaders are wholesome and drag queens are not?
A brilliant article Jan. Thank you. It seems to me that the fear is based on homophobia. Gender and sexuality may not be as binary as our culture portrays it. And differences and changes have always been frightening to many people. It breaks my heart to see laws enacted under the guise of protecting children. Most of the drag queen and drag King shows I have seen are based on fun and performance and engaging the audience in laughter and enjoyment. I hope ultimately wisdom will prevail and allow diversity both in adults and children.
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Texas has similar bills for consideration by its legislature this 2023 session.
When I was a child there was also an event called a “womanless wedding.” It was even held in a school auditorium.
I was going to mention the womanless wedding, too. We have some old family photos from the small town where my grandfather grew up.