The War On Drag in Texas

After months of protesting, Senate Bill-12 was declared unconstitutional by a Federal Judge in September of this year. This decision will prevent Texas lawmakers from proposing future anti-drag bills for the remainder of the current legislative session.

Senate Bill 12 targeted drag performers’ ability to perform in the presence of people under the age of 18 years old. The Bill was criticized for its vague language which put the livelihoods and protections of drag artists and the venues they perform at in danger. With the overturning of this Bill, the rights of LGBTQ+ people are safe for the time being, but many people in this community still fear for the future due to a galvanized right and a heavily conservative legislating government still in office.

Before the Bill was initially signed, local Drag artists such as Maxine LaQueene spent weeks testifying before the Texas Senate in an attempt to decrease the harm the bill wording posed.

When recounting the progress LaQueene and her peers were able to make she notes how “Senate Bill 12 initially named Drag as a sexual activity that relates to the prurient interests in humans. Through testifying we were able to get the word Drag removed from the bill.”

It was vague language like this that played a big part in the bill’s overturning. Many critics of remarked how concepts like prurient interests were difficult to categorize and could be interpreted to censor the performances of mainstream pop artists in addition to local drag performers.

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Once Senate Bill 12 was initially passed, advocacy groups such as Equality Texas Transgender Education Network of Texas continued to fight the Bill by supporting lawsuits designed to challenge the Bill’s constitutional merit in front of a Federal Court.

These efforts proved successful and in September of 2023, a Federal Judge deemed the Bill unconstitutionally vague and overturned it. While many supporters of LBGTQ+ rights consider this a great victory in the fight for freedom, there are many issues they believe are still looming for the future.

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Following SB-12’s overturning any future anti-drag-related bills are blocked until the start of the next legislative session in Texas. The next session starts at the beginning of 2025 in January. The Texas legislature still leans heavily right so the same lawmakers who initially created Senate Bill 12 will likely look to propose similar bills when given the opportunity.

Another consequence of the wave of Anti-Drag Bills spreading across the country is the fear-mongering it has created within the right. The way Drag has been interpreted by right-leaning political figures has caused their followers to be more galvanized in censoring this art form.

Shosha Graff works as an audio technician at a Meanwhile brewery which hosts drag shows about once a month. They voiced concerns about the safety of not only these performers but also the workers and patrons of the brewery in light of this wave of anti-drag hatred.

“It definitely scary,” Graff said. “Thankfully nothing has come of it yet, but I’ve heard that people have talked online about trying to set up protests at my work.”

Meanwhile currently have no plans to end their regular drag shows and if prompted by protesters will make these private events to ensure the safety of every involved.

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