Beyond the war on drag

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By Brian Martinez

Being a queer person in America is not easy. Yes, it might be better here than other countries, but still even then, the queer community is always under attack. As of 2023, there have been over 385 bills introduced that are against the LGBTQ+ community. 

Legislation against the LGBTQ+ community dates back to 1953, with the Executive Order 10450 made by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The order banned any homosexual from working within the federal government. 

Not until 1993, with the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law signed by President Bill Clinton, was the LGBT mentioned in congress, According to CapitolHistory.Org. The law allowed gay and lesbian citizens to serve in the armed forces, as long as they kept their sexuality under wraps. This meant that they could not be proudly out in and out of uniform. 

President Barack Obama repealed the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law in 2010 and allowed for LGBTQ+ citizens to enlist and be out. The year prior, 2009, congress passed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This law protected the LGBTQ+ community from any and all types of attacks that may occur towards any person in the community. 

Since then, the LGBTQ+ community has had major landmark moments that are quickly being brought down by congress members who want to ban anything that may scream rainbow. 

In 2021, hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation spiked to 35%, according to the FBI. These attacks have been backed up by conservative lawmakers who are trying to remove rights that rightfully belong to the LGBTQ+ community. The majority of these attacks are towards Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color who are trans.

But as of recently, the Trans community in particular has been under attack. Starting with the North Carolina House Bill 2, HB2, the bill targeted bathroom usage for trans people. The bill would force trans people to use the bathroom according to their birth given sex. The ban was lifted once the state received backlash that affected them financially. 

Many states like Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, to name a few, have passed or have introduced bans on drag performers and where and when they can perform. Many of these bills prohibit drag performers from performing in front of children because it is too explicit for young audiences. This bill would affect trans people even if they are not drag performers. 

The law states that anyone who is in “drag”, dressed in the opposite gender, is not allowed to be near children and can be arrested. This means that if a trans person is walking in the streets and they pass by a child, they run the risk of getting arrested for just passing by. 

These laws began brewing because drag queens would host story hours where they would read books to children during pride in June. Red state lawmakers felt like children were in danger of experiencing adult themed entertainment that was not geared for them. 

The topic of drag bans happens to be during a time where the country is consistently having mass shootings and it seems that congress is focused on stopping queer people from expressing themselves rather than making sure students are safe in classrooms.

Congress wants to keep the children safe but instead they are holding them back from learning about who they are in states like Florida where it is illegal for them to mention anything LGBTQ+ related in school. 

Although so many of these laws are targeted towards the trans community, it affects the entire LGBTQ+ community because today it may be an attack on trans people but tomorrow it can be towards the rest of the queer alphabet. 

Protests and marches have sprawled throughout the country in defense of the Trans community and the drag community. Although things seem like they may be bad, the LGBTQ+ is building itself stronger and bigger.