The sad reality is that those who point the fingers at drag queens being a threat do so while deliberately ignoring the children who are groomed right in their own families and churches.
| Guest Columnist
‘Footloose’ in Tennessee: Drag shows and churches can co-exist
Opponents of Jackson Pride pushed the event and the drag show away from a public park. However, in doing so, they were infringing on citizens’ rights.
- David W. Shelton is a resident of Clarksville and an elected Montgomery County commissioner.
Let me tell you about this kid. He was probably about 5 or so, and at that very moment, he was the most fabulous gal in the field and had to pick some flowers.
As I write this today, I have a vague memory of a photo, which my mom calls her “confirmation picture.” When I came out to her about 19 years ago, it was the day after Thanksgiving while sitting on an ottoman in her master closet.
Yes, I came out of the closet while inside a closet. It’s true.
But she struggled with accepting it. My stepdad gave her some really good insight, but nothing really drove it home like this photo did.
This. Kid. Is. Totally. Super. Gay.
But let’s look at the way I “became” that flower gal that day. Not sure why we had a baseball hat on, but they’re my mom’s sunglasses. I had the walk and the kneel just right. All that was missing was the giant wig.
My great aunt was there to get the picture. I’m pretty sure Mom showed it to everyone at my recent wedding to my husband Koko. A trifle embarrassing but all in good fun.
When I think of my friends that perform as drag queens, I can imagine them having a moment like this in their childhood. Purely innocent.
And theatrical as hell.
More:‘Footloose’ in Tennessee: Drag shows and churches can coexist | Plazas
Hear more Tennessee Voices: Get the weekly opinion newsletter for insightful and thought provoking columns.
Opponents spread the false narrative of ‘grooming’
For those of you who cheer when someone talks about banning public drag performances, remember this picture. Remember how I described feeling. Free as the wind as far as my skinny legs would take me.
That’s the freedom they feel. Showing off their inner theatricality with every bit of bombast and passion as they can muster. Sometimes crude, sometimes vulgar, but always filled with other pure joy of performing.
Drag is simply a celebration of the power of pure freedom from the catcalls of hate and prejudice.
And when they perform in public, their hope is to make a lasting impression. That wig. That flip. Those splits. Ow.
Queens are truly the heart of the gay community, especially in the south. The false condemnations of “grooming” and “pornography” are as ridiculous as they are vile.
I hate that this even has to be said: Drag queens are not strippers.
This is the truth of the matter: children are molested or raped almost always by people they’re told to trust: other family members, church leaders, and youth program leaders. Not transgender people. And certainly not drag queens.
Sign up for Latino Tennessee Voices newsletter:Read compelling stories for and with the Latino community in Tennessee.
Sign up for Black Tennessee Voices newsletter:Read compelling columns by Black writers from across Tennessee.
We are not going back in the closet
The sad reality is that those who point the fingers at drag queens being a threat do so while deliberately ignoring the children who are groomed right in their own families and churches. I know of one local church that had two separate youth pastors arrested for statutory rape over just a few years.
As of today, a Tennessee state senator has filed a bill to outlaw public drag shows. It’s SB0003 for next year. Literally the third bill filed for the new year.
This particular senator, Jack Johnson from Franklin, literally couldn’t wait to file this bill.
I’m just a lowly county commissioner, but even I know that we are elected to serve all of the public and not just those who voted for me. Johnson would do well to remember this.
They have one hell of a fight on their hands. Drag queens started the modern gay rights movement in 1969. And if you think they’re going to take this quietly, well, I will get the popcorn started.
You will not make LGBTQ people go back into any closet. Not today. Not ever.
David W. Shelton is a resident of Clarksville and an elected Montgomery County commissioner.