More than 388 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in 2023 alone, according to the ACLU, including transgender bathroom bans, gender-affirming care bans, and more.
It turns out that even 150 years ago, legislators wanted to police gender expression in public spaces. LGBTQ Tennesseans. Advocates worry that recently passed legislation restricting drag performances in public spaces in Tennessee could be used to discriminate against them and fuel the slew of similar laws being proposed in other states.
- The bill that passed in Tennessee last week restricts “adult cabaret performances” in public or in the presence of children, and bans them from occurring within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, or places of worship.
- This was passed alongside separate legislation that bans transgender minors in Tennessee from receiving gender-affirming care like puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery.
- As of a month ago, at least 9 GOP-led state legislatures were pushing similar anti-drag bills.
Those found violating the anti-drag law face misdemeanor charges in the first instance, punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and/or up to a year in jail. Those found for subsequent violations face a felony charge, punishable by up to six years in jail.
What’s at stake?
- Laws restricting gender expression in public and in private have been around in the U.S. for more than 100 years, with one in New York only just being repealed in 2021.
- Critics say the Tennessee bill is so constitutionally vague there is little clarity about what falls under the jurisdiction of the ban, making business owners, performers and others uncertain of what could come next.
- Others say the laws will be used to target queer Tennesseans everywhere: “It’s … this subtle and sinister way to further criminalize just being trans,” ACLU of Tennessee’s Henry Seaton told NPR earlier this month.
- Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, the drafter of the state’s drag show bill, told NPR in a statement, “Just as current law prohibits strip clubs from admitting children, this legislation would also prohibit sexually suggestive drag shows from being performed on public property, or on any non-age-restricted private property where a minor could be present.”
- Violations face a felony charge, punishable by up to six years in jail.
Tennessee state Sen. Jack Johnson, a sponsor of the bill banning public drag performances, said in a tweet this month that the law “gives confidence to parents that they can take their kids to a public or private show and will not be blindsided by a sexualized performance.”
For those of us on the front line fighting for FREEDOMS, we are urging those of you on the sideline watching to be keenly aware. These laws and attempts to roll back progressive advancements are calculated and intentionally executed. They have been aggressively introduced in Republican led legislations since 2016 after the 2nd term of President Barack Obama.
APRIL IS NATIONAL STRESS AWARENESS MONTH!
Dr. Umieca N. Hankton is a licensed clinical psychologist and owner of UNH Counseling Services. Dr. Hankton’s clinical interests include the mental health and wellness of Black women, LGBTQ+, clergy, and college students. Clinical services are available to those located in TN, LA, TX, GA, AL, D.C., & IL. To learn about the services offered, please call 901-300-9082.
Dr. Umeica Hankton
Meet One to Watch Entertainer Pharaoh Loco
Q: Share with us everything else you are creating such as products, traveling and new projects.
A: Of course. I’m releasing an album but I’m going to release each song one by one. I have a record coming out on March 3 called “Altars”. It’s more like a tribute to my ancestors and acknowledgement. I’m focusing on being free in my self-expression so I can come out with hip-hop, R&B, Pop, who knows I am meant to create, so I can’t box myself in.
Also, touching on what you said earlier about mental health. There are now services available on my website to people who need therapy. At indigobypharaohloco.com we now offer virtual therapy sessions with an amazing African American Psychologist that I handpicked myself. It’s hard out here and I know there are many people like me who don’t like to talk to people, but sometimes we need to. We made these sessions affordable because we really want to help our people.
2023 TRISTATE BLACK PRIDE MEMPHIS IS COMING – JUNE 15 THRU 18TH
In the coming months we ask for your support to help by remaining vigilant and educating those around you about these pressing matters. This is our urgent plea to anyone who has been watching or reading the headlines about these egregious legislative laws since 2023 began. “WE NEED ALL HANDS ON DECK!”
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