Every once in a while a city attempts to pass (or actually accomplishes passing) a law so ridiculous that it could be a movie — à la Footloose and the very real Oklahoma town it's based on, which didn't remove an outdated dancing ban until 1980.
Portland, TN is threatening to become the next city for a based-on-a-true-story movie, with city officials actually considering a law that would make drag shows illegal. A city council meeting on Monday drew a large crowd of people who were there to voice their opinions on the matter, Fox News 17 in Nashville reports.
The issue came up when residents raised concerns to Kenneth Wilber, the city's mayor, about a bar on Main Street that hosts drag performances, according to NBC affiliate WSMV. In response, he and other city officials are considering a proposed amendment to an existing law, which prohibits "adult entertainment" in businesses downtown. The amendment would classify drag shows as part of the adult activities that are banned.
"It's classified technically as a cabaret type show," Wilber said to Fox News 17 last week. "We feel like the community has spoken, and we feel personally feel like it's not something we want in our main district, especially downtown that we're trying to build the retail."
But some members of the community don't want drag shows to be banned. In fact, they feel that banning drag would be an act of bullying.
"This community deserves to celebrate its diversity in any way it sees fit, according to the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States," Chris Sanders, of the Tennessee Equality Project, said at a rally arguing against the amendment. "You are celebrating all diversity by being here. And this community needs to see you, and they need to hear you, so let them hear your voice now."
Calling a law like this "bullying" isn't exactly a stretch. Despite many of the residents' arguments that drag shows will corrupt and confuse children in the town, all a ban on drag would actually do is squash the voices of a community largely comprised of queer people who are already made to feel as if they don't belong.
As for the argument that drag is "adult entertainment" that doesn't belong in a small town like Portland, the people who organize drag shows have a pretty solid argument against that, too.
"To be considered adult entertainment, that involves nudity," Raymond Guillermo, of Elite Drag Star Productions, said at the council meeting. "Has anyone on the council been to one of our shows?"
For now, city officials have delayed a vote on the ban until November 6, fearing the reaction should it pass. "If we pass this, we're getting sued," alderman Brian Harbin said.
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