LGBTQ+ community reacts to ruling on drag bill

Published: Jun. 4, 2023 at 6:53 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The LGBTQ+ community is rejoicing after the decision from U.S District Judge Thomas Parker ruled that public drag shows can continue in Shelby County hours after the decision Mid-South Pride kicked off its large festival on Saturday.

A sigh of relief for drag performers and supporters across Tennessee. A move to ban public drag shows has been ruled unconstitutional.

“Came in way later than we thought it would last night, but still it came in. It means that we are all safe, so we love it. We’re real happy,” said Vannessa Rodley, Midsouth Pride Member of Friends of George’s.

A lawsuit filed by the non-profit and LGBTQ+theatre company, Friends of George’s, argued the Adult Entertainment Act, violated first amendment rights.

“We want to show Texas, Florida, Montana how they can do the same thing, and still be okay because even if it didn’t pass last night we would still be going, no problem,” said Rodley.

The law intended to ban “adult performances” in places where children could see it.

“To worry about someone who is having fun and doing what they love and you’re trying to ban it― it’s ridiculous and I’m just happy that it didn’t get to that point and people like stood up in that house and talked,” said Kedron Pryor, Midsouth Pride attendee.

But in his judgment, Judge Thomas L. Parker says the state sought to change the meaning of minors as the law would only protect 17-year-olds, opposing the public perception that it protects all children.

He also says that laws infringing on Freedom of Speech must be narrow and well-defined, which he says, the AEA does neither.

“It’s really great not only for the organization, Friends of George’s, to really fight this battle, and stand up for our community but also to really see that no matter what we still have people that back us, and love us and want to make sure that going forward in this world―that people continue to have a safe space to be truly who they are,” said Iris Lefluer, an entertainer.

As Pride month continues through June, those who fight for this law to be thrown out say work like this has to continue.

“We did all this by writing and protesting and we will keep doing that, and we will keep showing up just like we did and we will keep doing and fighting the good fight until we get to where we need to be as a people, in general,” said Rodley.

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