Legal professionals in the LGBTQI+ community will take the stage at Oasis Saturday, April 29, for “Legalize Drag,” a fundraiser for grassroots organizations in Tennessee. The state recently passed a law banning adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors from taking place on public property and in the presence of those under 18 years of age.
The law also deems “male and female impersonators” adult cabaret performers. The law was supposed to go into effect April 1 but a federal judge has temporarily blocked it, saying it was likely “vague and overly broad” in its restrictions of speech, as Reuters reported.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) also signed legislation banning gender-affirming care for trans youth, as the B.A.R. previously reported.
Given those developments, as well as the over 400 other anti-LGBTQ bills facing legislative action across the country, local drag performers and legal professionals Michael Trung Nguyen and Ari Jones decided to organize and host the fundraiser, a news release stated.
Jones, who identifies as nonbinary, performs in drag as Pop Rox. The release stated that they saw the need to raise funds and showcase legal professionals that also perform in drag as a way to fight back against the legislation. Jones is a director at Berkeley-based Oasis Legal Services, which works with queer asylees and other immigrant survivors of trauma, the release stated.
“The criminalization of drag presents a unique hardship for queer legal professionals and others who have to pass background checks and prove a certain moral standard in order to be licensed,” Jones stated. “The idea that I could lose my law license if I lived in another state simply because I dress a certain way or lip synch to a song is a clear violation of the First Amendment to our Constitution.”
The show will also