Outlawed

Yes, this town is actually trying to legally ban drag shows

Drag queen standing in front of a red curtain

It was standing room only at a Monday night meeting as city officials from Portland, Tennessee (pop. 12,522) debated over whether to ban drag shows. Yes, drag shows.

No, this is not a joke. City leadership spent over an hour discussing a proposed amendment to a zoning ordinance that would effectively outlaw drag shows from happening in the downtown’s business district.

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During the meeting, they listened to numerous community members, many of whom were opposed to the homophobic amendment.

Ray Guillermo, who owns Elite Star Productions, urged the board to visit his establishment and see one of the shows before making a decision.

“I think a lack of knowledge is the problem,” he said. “There is no nudity … This is not adult entertainment.”

This sentiment was echoed by local drag queen Graceyn James Collins, who said equating drag with eroticism isn’t just incorrect, it’s insulting.

“Kids see what we are doing and this is their way of expressing themselves,” Collins said. “In 2005, I hit my limit as a kid … and drag saved my life. That teen who is watching this right now, this is the turning point … Come see what we do and then make your decision.”

Of course, there was no shortage of naysayers.

Portland resident Nicole Vestal stood before the microphone and said she didn’t believe the proposed ordinance was homophobic at all.

“I applaud what you’re doing,” she told the board. “Regardless of the ACLU, I think you guys should keep going…transgender shows have no business in the downtown district.”

Related: Get an early sneak peak at the upcoming docu-series “Shade: Queens of NYC”

Vestal added that if people interested in drag should do so “in the privacy of their own homes.”

Another resident, Tom King, said just because he’s vehemently opposed to drag shows and LGBTQ people, in general, that doesn’t make him a bad person.

“I don’t support this,” he said. “If they’re on the side of the road with a flat tire, I’ll stop and help … but I don’t support this type of activity.”

City attorney David Amonette had words of caution for the board, telling them to expect a lawsuit if the ordinance passed.

“We have received correspondence from attorneys and organizations concerned about the issues before you,” Amonette said. “There are some serious things in these letters I’d like to have the opportunity to review. I can assure you that you will be sued if you act hastily here.”

At the end of the meeting, the board couldn’t make up its mind, so they decided to defer the vote until they could speak to the state attorney general and find out if the ban is legal.

A final decision will be made no later than November 6. Who wants to make a bet on what they’re gonna decide?

Related: From makeup to tucking, 19 queens share their fiercest drag tips

h/t: The Tennesseean

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9 Comments

  • surreal33

    If we can make nationwide ban I am all in!!!

    • eireapparent

      Really, troll? I mean I don’t care for them, but I’m not going to rob that joy from others.

    • Greg C

      Then why are you on this site dude? This is a form of voyeurism if you abhor this type of thing. Typical idiot troll, no more, and no less.

    • Greg C

      I meant the voyeurism comment to apply to a str8 person who abhors everything LGBTQ, being on this site would be the same as him going to a drag show. Just watching from the sidelines in either case, why is one okay and the other not. Math was my strength in school, not verbal expression..LOL!

  • 1EqualityUSA

    “Freedom of expression” will wipe the gymnasium floor with this fine example of death by a million lawsuits. Proof that we are singled out for harsh treatment and legal harrassment by our fellow citizens. The Supreme Court must protect us. If not, who is next?

  • He BGB

    In Atlanta a bookstore has a weekly (?) drag queen reading to kids. Maybe Portland Tennessee should take a page from that book. Although some queens are pretty scary now that I think about it.

  • Clay83

    Christ, with all the problems in the USA these small town idiots are worrying about a drag show. How about focusing on what actually matters.

  • Clay83

    Now if they were banning all religion I would be all for it! That shit does untold damage

  • Luna1979

    Their reasoning was embarrassing. I could write paragraphs gutting these imbeciles, but I have to read more comments about whether Franco is gay. That shit’s hilarious. Idk if it’s just in my city, but I have seen some very risqué drag including real naked tits and thongs and candy which was half unwrapped. I wouldn’t take my nephew there!!

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