Tennessee governor signing anti-drag bill even as yearbook photo turned up of him in drag

Originally published at: Tennessee governor signing anti-drag bill even as yearbook photo turned up of him in drag | Boing Boing


“Saucy micro-mini for me but not for thee.”


Just a reminder that Governor Lee insisted that this legislation was very important for the protection of children but he continues to ignore requests to address the seriously underfunded Department of Children’s Services.

He’s supposedly more worried about some vague “presentation” in adult venues than he is about actual kids having to sleep under desks in offices because the department that could help them can’t afford to provide them a real place to live.

Oh yeah, and an attempt to add exceptions for rape and incest to the state’s law banning all abortions has been withdrawn because of a lack of votes.



In case folks missed it, I posted this in another thread on the ban… he addresses the disaster that is the DCS in TN… shameful assholes.


The “he did it too” angle seems like a tu quoque argument to me, and a red herring. Okay, it shows him to be a hypocrite. Shocker.

But the reporters should have been asking about First Amendment rights.

The headline should be more along the lines of “Tennessee Governor doesn’t understand Bill of Rights, buys fast-track ticket to visit Supreme Court”.


I doubt the governor would object at all to dressing in this manner if the intent is to denigrate, shame, belittle or disenfranchise, and as those were likely his intentions then, I think this would be his argument now.

Probably he also is upset about how he would be castigated if he were to wear black face, but don’t be surprised if he supports banning black faces.


There are exceptions to the First Amendment and while I doubt the governor would think to respond with that–he was clearly angry at the reporter for asking about it–the Trey Crowder clip that @Mindysan33 shared, and which can’t be amplified enough, highlights an important point: the law as written is really vague and arbitrary.

Bringing up Lee’s own drag is relevant then because, if the law had been in place in 1978, he’d be technically guilty but his privilege would protect him. The arbitrariness is important. He can’t claim everyone’s equal under the law when the law excuses white, wealthy men like him.

So really maybe the headline should be “Tennessee Governor Defends Law He Doesn’t Understand”.


“Look, there’s ‘good drag’ and ‘bad drag’ - the ‘bad drag’ is when queer people do it. The ‘good drag’ is when heterosexual men do it to make fun of gays and/or women.”

-this dude, if pressed on the issue


While the drag bill is getting the lion’s share of the attention, WaPo pointed out another bill that will effectively end much of the care for trans adults (especially working class adults) - HB 1215:

what GIF


i agree that while that is technically drag, it’s unfair to equate it with the art of REAL drag – but he’s willfully misdirecting when he claims that real drag – especially in the context around kids! – is sexual. that’s just missing the point of drag entirely.


A therapist shows a guy a picture of a car and asks, “What does this make you think of?” The guy says, “Sex.” The therapist shows him a picture of a house and asks, “And this?” The guy says, “Sex.” The therapist shows him a picture of a tree. “Sex.”
The therapist says, “Obviously you’re obsessed with sex.”
The guy says, “Well you’re the one with all the dirty pictures!”

In any other context it’s a joke. In the Tennessee legislature it’s an effective way to criminalize trans people and, for that matter, pretty much anyone they don’t like. I’m sure they’re even trying to figure out a way to go after a local street named after a drag queen.

After all they’ve already tried to rename part of a street honoring John Lewis “Donald Trump Boulevard”.





“boys dress as girls and vice versa during homecoming week”

And everyone there turned gay and trans, right? That’s what the argument is, isn’t it, exposing kids to drag makes them gay and trans? Was that the goal of this PowderPuff event? Does Tennessee really have this tradition of gay and trans grooming that Lee and his press secretary admit to?

“‘What a ridiculous question that is,’ said Lee.” It’s ridiculous because even he knows that no drag show has ever changed anyone’s sexuality or gender identity.


The Dannyzens would be very disappointed.


I can’t help but think … Nazi Germany, 1933:

  • Non-Nazi political parties were officially banned
  • Cabarets were shut down and certain artists also banned and deemed unacceptable

Wow, that’s sure sounding familiar for some reason!

(My apologies if I’m blurring some of the finer points of the complete history, please refer to the actual historians and not the Library IT Supporter on a break with half-remembered details!)


Kristen Wiig Yep GIF by Where’d You Go Bernadette


I’m not getting complacent but I do see signs of hope. These bills are reactions to an environment that isn’t changing but has already changed in ways that are scary, but not actually harmful, to mostly a bunch of old white men who are desperate to hold onto their power and privilege. I’ve seen Nashville Pride events go from a handful of people gathering for a few hours and outnumbered by bigots to multi-day events attended by mayors. If the bigots even show up they’re the ones who are outnumbered to the point you won’t even know they’re there.

I’m not getting complacent because I know these changes didn’t just happen. They took a lot of hard work, and things seem scarier now than they have in a really long time. There’s been a lot of talk about what Pride will look like this year. Will the police arrest drag queens even if the mayor and other city officials tell them not to? I know some are taking a let’s-wait-and-see approach, but I’m one of the ones taking a they’ll-have-to-get-past-my-cis-white-ass-first approach.

And while we failed to prevent the bill from passing in the first place I think the pushback on it is just getting started.


This. All of the extremist, ridiculous moves of the current batch of fascists and proto-fascists is the flailing death throes of their power. The world is changing out from underneath them, and that undretoe is going to take them down.

The difficult part is how many good and innocent people are being harmed in all that flailing.

There are two keys, IMO:

  1. Protect marginalized people, because they are the first targets of violent fascists. Do everything we can to protect them, because they are taking the brunt of it in our stead.
  2. Be relentless in driving the change that is making the fascists scared. We can’t slow down out of misplaced pity or a pointless sense of fairness. The faster the change moves now, the less damage will accrue to innocents.

Meanwhile on this side of the world: