BenDeLaCreme has spoken out against the “overwhelming” amount of anti-drag and anti-trans legislation being introduced in various US state legislatures.
Speaking to GAY TIMES shortly after Tennessee became the first US state to ban public drag performances entirely, the Drag Race legend explained that “it’s hard to even have a reaction” to the anti-drag push coming from Republicans.
SB003 would see drag shows prevented from taking place within 1,000 feet of a school, church or park if there is any possibility of a minor seeing – even if it is only through a window.
It was supposed to take effect on 1 April, though it was temporarily blocked by district judge Thomas Parker just a few hours before it could.
“It’s very hard to focus and figure out what the hell is going on and what to think of it and what to do about it,” BenDeLaCreme, who also goes by DeLa, said.
“I mean, it’s really terrifying. It’s really, really scary, the breadth of this and, within the vagueness, which is so confounding, they’re essentially making bills where there is so much room for interpretation and no objective understanding of how this phrasing works in terms of, what are public spaces? What is accessible to children?”
The “vagueness” of the bill which DeLa highlighted is something that has many performers in Tennessee concerned.
Although SB003 doesn’t explicitly mention “drag shows”, it redefines “adult cabaret” as “adult-oriented performances” that include “male and female impersonators” which should not take place anywhere minors could be present.
DeLa expressed wider concerns that this bill “potentially really extends to trans people being in public places because, if a lawmaker decides that they personally don’t feel trans identity is valid, then they then get to decide idea that they are going to categorise them as an impersonator and then being in a public space is just them existing.”
“We need to be angry and we need to be convincing people”
Lawmakers behind many of the anti-drag proposals often allege that drag is somehow harmful to children, though fail to recognise that drag, like any other artform, can be modified in order to be appropriate for a number of different audiences – including children.
“When I was a kid, everyone in my junior high was watching American Pie and loved it,” DeLa told GAY TIMES. “It’s talking about sticking musical instruments up your privates and it’s all fucking a pie, you know? It’s like, why, when these straight, white kids are doing this is it acceptable? And parents get to decide like, ‘Oh, I don’t want my kids to see that’, but they’re not trying to ban it. They’re not trying to burn the book. It’s just so confounding and the idea that people really don’t seem to see, that going from the idea of, ‘I don’t think it’s a good idea for children to see this’, leaping from that to, ‘I think it should be against the law’. I don’t understand how to bridge that dissonance. I don’t understand what to say to change people’s minds about that.”
@gaytimes YES, @bendelacreme 👏 #uspoliticsnews #uspolitics #transrightsarehumanrights #lgbtbill #transhealthcare #lgbtq #dragbantennessee #dragban #bendelacreme ♬ Thinking time _ thinking – Kenboku Kanie
Although SB003 has been blocked from becoming law until at least 26 May, the likelihood of it eventually taking effect remains high.
As the LGBTQ+ community continues to be targeted by such legislation throughout the US and beyond, DeLa explained that “we need to be angry and we need to be convincing people” in order to stop it.
“We need to be telling the people who are not engaged and don’t see how it matters and are not connecting those dots, who are seeing the drag bans as something that’s not really a big deal because they still aren’t connecting the dots to why it is,” she said.
“That’s what needs to be vocalised. We’re not going to change the minds of people who hate us. We’re not going to change the mind of people who already agree with us and we don’t need to, but we are potentially going to change the mind of all those people in between who just don’t see that it’s a big deal.”