Danger! Drag Queens Ahead

You are forgiven if you have not been following the hullabaloo surrounding red state culture war foolishness. There are many serious concerns in the world and most folks are just trying to get through the day with work, school, kids and the travails of everyday life. Unfortunately, the impact in the states pursuing laws meant to inhibit or exclude LGBTQ citizens is real for those that bear the brunt of those laws. But here is how bad the paranoia and faux rage is — at least nine Republican led states have legislation proposed or under review to criminalize drag queens.

The reasoning behind these proposals is that drag shows are venues for “grooming” young children for sexual purposes or to “turn” them gay or lesbian. Representative of these arguments is the one made by a Republican Texas legislator who argues that drag shows are a “slippery slope” to the legalization of pedophilia.

Most of these proposed laws are so broad that it may lead to First Amendment and other issues given that the language in them generally says that it applies to anyone who appears in a gender identity different than that of their birth identity. Anyone so dressed would be violating the law. Indeed. Well say goodbye kids to a host of popular movies, TV programs and plays. In no particular order, here are a few that seemingly could be deemed illegal under these laws if shown in a public place or viewed by a person under 18.

White Christmas (1954 movie where Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye perform dressed as “sisters”)

Tootsie (1982 movie where Dustin Hoffman poses as a female soap opera actress)

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993 move where Robin Williams poses as a female housekeeper/nanny)

Bosom Buddies (1980-82 TV sitcom where Peter Scolari and Tom Hanks pose as women to live in women’s housing)

The Flip Wilson Show (1970-74 TV variety show where Flip Wilson often dressed as the female character Geraldine)

The Bob Hope Show (TV shows and specials where Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Jack Benny and others dressed in drag)

Some Like It Hot (1959 movie with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dressed as women to join an all female jazz band)

Victor/Victoria (1982 movie with Julie Andrews playing a man playing a woman to sing in a nightclub)

Angels in America (2003 TV mini-series where Meryl Streep played multiple characters including an aging male rabbi)

As You Like It (Shakespeare play where the character Rosalind disguises herself as a young boy)

The Merchant of Venice (Shakespeare play where the character Portia disguises herself as a male law clerk)

I could go on and on but you get the idea. Some form of “drag shows” have been a part of the mainstream for decades, nay, for centuries as in earlier eras women were not allowed on the stage and men played all of the parts, male and female. The Shame!

I’ve seen all of these programs, some as a child, and I never felt “groomed’ or that anyone was trying to “convert” me. These attempts at banning or restricting drag shows, such as the current hot button issue with children’s reading hour at libraries, are merely ploys to inflame fear and to be “anti-woke” — whatever that means — for political reasons.

Here is the most interesting part for me. These same Republicans rant and rave that parents should have the final say on what books can be read in school, what content should be in school curriculums and a host of other “parents’ rights” issues. Yet, these legislators must be convinced that when it comes to drag shows that parents cannot make a considered decision for their own children. If you don’t want your kids to go to the drag queen reading at the library, then do not go. The very people that want to condemn the federal government for being the “nanny state” want to tell us what TV shows, movies and plays we and/or our kids should watch.

Unfortunately, however frivolous such laws appear, they are really thinly disguised efforts to further restrict the rights of LBGTQ citizens. That is serious business. The real “slippery slope” is the restriction of our basic rights. That is no laughing matter.