Tennessee Nears Criminalizing Public Drag Shows

The Tennessean reports:

Tennessee House Republicans on Thursday moved to prohibit “adult-oriented” entertainment from public property and restrict it to age-restricted venues in legislation filed after a flurry of controversies over drag shows across the state.

The bill classifies “male and female impersonators” as adult cabaret performers and bans “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors,” as defined in Tennessee’s obscenity law.

Bill sponsor Rep. Chris Todd, R-Madison County, filed the legislation after he fought a public Pride drag show in Jackson, Tennessee. Todd at the time called the drag show “child abuse,” though he said he wasn’t aware of the actual content the show would contain.

Memphis’s Fox affiliate reports:

House Bill 9 and Senate Bill 3 would ban those performances from public property or in a location where they could be viewed by minors. The bill addresses performances like “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.”

The bill passed as amended with 74 in favor and 19 against. News Channel 11 reached out to the office of Governor Bill Lee regarding the bill. A spokesperson for Lee said he intended to sign it when it came to his desk.

The bill now returns to the state senate for a procedural concurrence vote before heading to the governor’s desk, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

Rep. Chris Todd first appeared on JMG in April 2022 when he authored a successful bill allowing 18 year-olds to carry handguns. Because he so wants to protect young people. Last year he forced a local Pride organization to cancel drag performances in a public park.