Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Republicans’ Legislation Against Drag Shows Is Part of their Anti-LGBTQ+ Agenda

Right-wing reactionaries are taking aim at drag shows as part of their attack on LGBTQ+ rights. These proposed bills will undoubtedly open the floodgates for more and more explicit attacks against queer people across the country.

Sawyer Smith

June 14, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share

At around 7:00 p.m. on June 6, New York conservative commentator and prolific Twitter user Greg Kelly posted an audio snippet of a call he made to the North Texas Crime Commission ranting about what he described as a “horrible video” depicting behavior which he deemed to be “incredibly inappropriate, and probably criminal.” The video in question was of a Dallas drag show inviting kids to dance on stage with performers. Kelly’s revulsion to the video is hardly unexpected, as conservative pundits and lawmakers across the country have been stepping up their virulently homophobic and transphobic rhetoric. 

This uptick in dangerously bigoted attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community comes as theSupreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, a move which will have ramifications not just for abortion rights, but for the right to bodily autonomy and privacy. Activists are pointing to the ways in which this decision could open the door for legislators to re-criminalize same-sex marriage, exacerbate the repression of trans people seeking gender affirming medical care, and continue to control the bodies of the working people who will face the most severe consequences of these actions. 

Earlier that day, Texas House Representative and self-proclaimed “Defender of Liberty” Bryan Slaton released a statement explicitly condemning drag performances in his state, and calling for an outright ban on the practice. Slaton went even further, writing in his statement that “protecting our own children isn’t enough, and our responsibility as lawmakers extends to the sexualization that is happening across Texas.” 

The precise wording of this proposed legislation has yet to be made public, but Slaton’s statement paints a disturbing picture. How, exactly, would such a ban be phrased? Conservative legislators could use this opportunity, as they often do, to criminalize not just the practice of drag and force it underground, but to criminalize queer, and to a greater extent trans, people in their entirety — even those who aren’t involved in drag. Indeed, the statement continues by saying, “Representative Slaton has already announced that he will continue his fight to make sex change therapies on minors ‘child abuse.’” Imprecise language in these kinds of bills are ruthlessly exploited by bad actors to control those whose identities they consider offensive to their rigid traditional values. 

Queer rights are currently the primary front in the seemingly never-ending culture war. Conservatives — and until relatively recently, liberals as well — have waged a crusade against the LGBTQ+ community since the founding of this country, but this fire has been rekindled in recent years. Pearl-clutching right-wing demagogues decry the downfall of western civilization and the corruption of our youth at the transgender people’s reasonable request to have their gender identities validated, which necesitates material advancements and the protection of their rights. These rights are currently under direct siege, and include things like access to healthcare and the freedom to use any bathroom they please without fear of retaliation. 

In retaliation against this perceived assault on American values, predominantly Republican lawmakers have proposed all manner of legislation seeking to dehumanize and criminalize trans people. This comes in the form of everything from allegations of abuse levied at the parents of transgender children, to the tried and true attacks on transgender athletes by way of invasive “genital exams” (a practice intended to be performed on the children they claim to be protecting.) 

The disproportionate attention centered on these so-called culture war wedge issues comes at a time of multiple crises. Real, tangible issues facing the American working class — an epidemic of bigoted violence across the country, the visible effects of climate change, reactionary legislation to criminalize queer people — are cast aside in favor of mind-numbing moral panic around which the right wing can rally its base. 

There’s no mistaking that queer issues are of vital imporance to workers: legislation rooted transphobic and homophobic bigotry directly impacts queer people who represent a significant portion of the working class. What distracts from these issues is a hyperfixation from the right on “groomers” and erroneous accusations of oversexualization. Again and again, we see legislators ignore the demands of their constituents to enact policy which actually represents their interests, and instead fixate on scapegoats in the form of whichever issue they deem to be corrosive to the moral fiber of the United States in that moment. 

While the likelihood of legislation like Slaton’s passing remains unclear at the time of writing, the popularity of his sentiments serve as an unsettling reminder that the increasingly powerful Right in this country has a bigoted and repressive agenda on which it is dangerously capable of mobilizing. His rhetoric, and that of his colleagues like Marjorie Taylor Greene and alleged minor sex trafficker Matt Gaetz, have real sway among their base. Rhetoric like this emboldens angered and violent right wing extremists to take action against those who they fear to be a threat to the established order, and legislation will, if unchecked, protect them. These lawmakers will not stop at banning drag shows, which is already a remarkably bold move, and the passing of bills like these will undoubtedly open the floodgates for more and more explicit attacks against LGBTQ+ people across the country. As with any crisis of this nature, we cannot rely on our elected officials alone to intervene and prevent these harmful laws from being passed. After all, Democrats need a platform to run on, and as we’ve seen with the right-wing attacks on abortion, they are more than happy to let reactionary policy slide if it means that they can campaign on the promise to fix it later down the line. Fighting legislation like this demands a massive, coordinated effort from working people to ensure that our rights are protected. Mass movements which first secured victories like Roe v. Wade and the legalization of same sex marriage, and it will take the same energy to prevent their destruction.

Facebook Twitter Share

Gender & Sexuality

A Socialist Take on the Women’s March Convention

In mid August over 1,700 activists attended the Women’s March Convention in Houston Texas. While the participants were driven by rage at the status quo, the non-profit and corporate leaders of the Women’s March offered only a failed strategy of voting for the Democrats and supporting “progressive” capitalists.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

September 16, 2022

NYPD Violently Arrest 5 Abortion Rights Activists at a Clinic Defense

On Saturday, five people were violently arrested protecting abortion access in NYC, while NYPD protected anti-choicers attempting to harass patients.

Molly Rosenzweig

August 6, 2022

In a Backlash Against Dobbs, Kansas Votes Overwhelmingly to Protect Abortion

Kansans have overwhelmingly voted to protect abortion rights in their state. This is a huge rejection of the anti-democratic Dobbs decision by the tyrannical Supreme Court.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

August 2, 2022

How We Won Abortion Rights

Abortion rights were recently won in Argentina, Mexico, and Chile. Socialist feminists organized in Pan y Rosas explain how they did it.

Left Voice

July 17, 2022

MOST RECENT

Woman holds a yellow sign that says "Nueva constitucion" in black text and another person is holding a yellow sign behind her that reads "No violencia clasista"

‘Boric Has Strengthened the Right-Wing Opposition’: Interview with a Chilean Socialist

In Chile, the illusion of winning the battle against neoliberalism in parliament has been shattered. We interviewed Chilean socialist Dauno Totoro about the recent rejection of a proposed constitution and the need to fight for a revolutionary, internationalist, and socialist Left.

Left Voice

September 25, 2022
Italian far-right leader Giorgia Meloni gives a speech, an Italian flag covers the podium

Elections in Italy amid Political Crisis: Interview with an Italian Socialist

The right wing is expected to win in Italy’s snap elections on Sunday. An Italian socialist explains the origins of the current political crisis, the rise of the right wing, and the tasks for the Left.

Left Voice

September 21, 2022
Detroit protesters hold green banner that says "DTE" Affordable Renewable Energy Now

Detroiters Say ‘Hell No!’ to DTE’s Proposed Electricity Rate Hike

Detroiters are confronting regulators who are deciding whether private utilities can extract more profits from the working class during energy, inflation, housing, and climate crises.

Lee Palmer

September 20, 2022

Say Her Name! Protests Erupt across Iran after Police Murder of Mahsa Amini

Iran has erupted over the death of a young woman in police custody for "improperly" wearing the hijab. In the context of a deep economic and political crisis, Iranians are also questioning their deeply unpopular regime and its brutal oppression of women.

Maryam Alaniz

September 20, 2022