A bill that would ban drag shows in all public places will be introduced in the early days of the next session of the Idaho Legislative Assembly in January, Idaho Family Policy Center Chairman Blaine Conzatti told the Idaho Capital Sun.
Conzatti and other conservative activists around idaho and Across the country have protested events in public spaces that feature drag queens, including drag queen story hour events at public libraries. In September, Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon called on people to pressure Boise Pride sponsors to draw their names from sponsoring the event to a scheduled performance of “Drag Kids” for ages 11-18, which was ultimately postponed for safety reasons.
Conzatti said the bill was ready to be introduced as soon as the session began, but declined to share the text of the bill with The Sun and did not name lawmakers who worked on it with him.
“No child should ever be exposed to sexual displays like drag shows in public places, whether in a public library or in a public park,” he said.
Conzatti also cites a drag performance in Coeur d’Alene in June as another example of public indecency, when a performer was accused of exposing themselves at a Pride in the Park event. After complaints, the local prosecutor’s office determined that the video was edited to make it look like the artist had exposed himself when he hadn’t. The artist has since filed a libel suit against northern Idaho blogger Summer Bushnell over the incident, according to information from the Coeur d’Alene Press.
The group cites a section of the Idaho Constitution as the basis for the law
The Idaho Family Policy Center circulated a petition leading to Boise Pride asking state lawmakers to ban drag shows in public places, citing a section of the Idaho Constitution which states that the first concern of all good government is the virtue and sobriety of the people and the purity of the home. He says the Legislature should “pursue all wise and well-directed efforts for the promotion of temperance and morality.”
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“There were many Supreme Court decisions from the 19th century dealing with public virtue and the fact that sexual practices should not take place in public because they degraded public virtue,” Conzatti said.
In Conzatti’s view, drag is inherently a sexualized caricature of the genre, which he compared to the racist practices of blackface that were common practice in theater until the past 50 years. He acknowledged that might be an offensive comparison to some.
“You emphasize certain natural characteristics so much that it becomes a caricature of itself,” he said.
More than 3,500 people signed the petition, according to an Idaho Family Policy Center newsletter, and more than 26,000 emails were sent to corporate sponsors of Boise Pride over the course of a day and a half.
Longtime performer says sexualized characterizations are insulting
Boise resident Crispin Gravatt has performed drag for more than a decade under the stage name Penelope Windsor at all types of venues, including storytime at libraries and at Boise Pride in September.
“At its core, drag is art, and art can be powerful,” Gravatt said. “For many of us, it’s a way of being part of a community and doing something fun and creative. For me and for my friends, it’s kind of like art therapy, the same kind of thing we see with veterans or survivors of abuse. It’s a way to find joy and overcome some of the challenges of a world that can sometimes be difficult for people like me.
For Gravatt, drag is no different from the original Shakespearean theatrical performances where men played women on stage and women played men, or the way a clown entertains a crowd. Misinformation about drag being spread is harmful, they said, because many people don’t know what drag actually is and end up believing something that isn’t true.
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“It’s kind of insulting that these people think people like me don’t know how to act appropriately for where we are,” they said. “From my experience in this community, performing, producing, going to shows and just celebrating who I am and who my community is, it’s strange to see such a small group of people manage to do what he tries to do. do, because 99% of the people I meet across the state – they think it’s either a fun creative outlet or something that maybe isn’t for them, but isn’t a threatens.
Boise Pride manager hopes to see pushback if bill is introduced
Boise Pride executive director Donald Williamson also received thousands of protest emails in the days leading up to the event. He said he was aware of the bill and believes it would be a violation of free speech to ban some type of representation, despite Conzatti’s claims that it will be legally defensible if it passes. the Legislative Assembly and is then challenged in court.
“It’s just wrong on so many levels,” Williamson said. “If you don’t agree with the performance, then you don’t go. It’s like any other place. That’s why I don’t go to country music concerts; It’s not my cup of tea.”
Williamson spent several years as a bartender at an Oregon drag club and said drag was not built on a sexualized foundation.
“It was a way of expressing your identity that you may not have had the ability to do in your public life, as a form of self-expression and empowerment,” he said. . “Obviously, like any other form of entertainment, there will be sexualization in one way or another. … There is a difference between a drag show that you and I could see if we decided to go see a drag show on a Friday or Saturday night with a cover charge, compared to a drag show on a Sunday afternoon in a park in front of the public.”
Williamson said Boise Pride is planning an alternative children’s drag show at a private venue for a later date so the performers’ family and friends can attend and the performers’ work is not wasted.
If the bill goes through as planned, Williamson said he expects a lot of pushback, and he hopes those who showed up for Boise Pride will show up at the Statehouse or contact their representatives.
“Show up and show up big, not just when we see this legislation, but any legislation that targets anyone who is hateful or hurtful and will negatively affect large swaths of the population.”
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