By Susan Payne
“Drag is not a crime.”
In solidary with drag performers, David Cooley, founder of The Abbey Food & Bar, stood before the West Hollywood City Council on March 6 to make that statement, joined by 11 drag entertainers who perform at the Abby WeHo and The Chapel.
In response to the state of Tennessee becoming the first state to criminalize drag shows, Cooley posted his speech on the @abbeyweho Instagram page, according to the WeHo Times.
“Last week, Tennessee became the first state to criminalize drag shows.
It is now possible for a drag performer to be charged with a felony and have their voting rights stripped, just for performing.
The bill is also so broad, it also means a trans person walking down the street could be charged with a felony for impersonating a male or female.
Tennessee lawmakers are not done, they also have bills targeting venues that feature drag performers. They want to reclassify them as strip clubs. It could soon be illegal to see a drag queen in a gay bar in Tennessee.
Drag is not a crime.
Tennessee isn’t alone. Just two months into 2023, conservative lawmakers have introduced over 340 anti-LGBT bills.
We are here tonight to show solidarity for our friends in Tennessee and ask the City of West Hollywood to issue a proclamation affirming that Drag is art, not a crime.
Drag is an artform built on self-expression and artistic performance. Drag is also powerful tool for political protest, that uplifts the LGBTQ+ community in the face of discrimination and oppression.
We want the City of West Hollywood @wehocity to make it clear that drag is both an art and form of political protest — both protected by the United States Constitution.
We can send a powerful message to the entire country that we value and support the rights of all individuals to express themselves freely and openly. We can send a message to our friends all over the country, whose rights are being stripped away, that we support them.
I urge you to take a bold and affirmative stand to support drag performers everywhere. #beyourself #notacriminal #SupportDragQueens #DragIsNOTaCrime”