Displayed is Drag Queen Veronika Electronika, who spoke at MUC 111 to deliver Drag 101 to students, educating them on what drag is and what it is not. Photo taken by Herzel Sireci | The All State.
Signed on March 2, 2023, Governor Bill Lee made Tennessee the first state to explicitly ban drag shows in public spaces.
The bill started due to the controversy of a public drag performance in Jackson, claiming the performance went against Tennessee’s laws over obscenity.
Drag shows have closely been a target of criticism- primarily by conservative states-including Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and a grand total of fourteen other states.
As of now, a federal judge has temporarily blocked Tennessee’s law that places a limit on drag performances claiming that the law infringes on First Amendment rights.
Steve Raimo, known as a drag queen Veronika Electronika, said it makes performers aware of a couple of different things.
“It makes us aware that our state government clearly has its eye out for all LGBT people- especially trans people including drag performers and other types of performers. We had no idea that legislators could care less about drag, so it kind of woke us up by saying we are under the eye of scrutiny of local government.”
Drag 101 hosted by Sexuality and Gender Alliance and ANTS continued the conversation of the bill on Thursday.
Theatre chair, Marcus Hayes discussed why this event is important to students at APSU.
“It continues the conversation around drag and the legislation and helping students to understand what’s happening and be able to get their questions answered and I think this particular speaker is helping to fill in the blanks for students. I think that any activity is helping to chip away at the confusion and people’s misunderstanding of what drag actually is,” said Hayes.
With the vagueness of the TN law as it stands, many performers have faced the question of how to carry on their performances.
“I think that the law is written so vague which is one of the things that the federal judge in Memphis said. You can’t just throw a blanket law out there and expect it to cover any and everything,” said Veronika Electronika.