By Johnny Trlica
Commentary: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension — a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone!”
Correction: Make that the Abbott Zone. In this dark and dreary zone, a drag queen can be arrested for walking from Eagle to JR’s. A trans person can serve time for singing along with the Cher song playing over the Kroger speakers.
Unfortunately, what is happening in Texas is not a science fiction television series from the 1950s. The attacks on the drag/trans community are real and Texas Governor Greg Abbott is the generator of this twisted script.
A new law essentially banning drag in public went into effect in Texas on September 1. On June 18, Abbott signed Senate Bill 12, a law banning “sexually oriented performances,” which critics say is an attempt to ban drag performances in public, with a goal of eliminating them altogether.
Under the measure, businesses are prohibited from hosting “sexually oriented” performances that feature nudity, “sexual conduct,” or appeal to the “prurient interest in sex” that take place in the presence of minors or in a space where minors can view them, or face fines of $10,000.
Drag performers and other “adult-oriented” entertainers are prohibited from performing in public or in spaces viewable by minors. As written, the law can be interpreted as banning drag queens at Pride parades and events or walking from one bar to another. If found to have violated the law, they will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, face up to a year in jail, and be fined $4,000 or both.
Under the language of the law, “sexual conduct” is defined as the exhibition or representation, whether actual or simulated, of sexual acts, genitals, devices designed to stimulate genitals, breasts, or buttocks, or “sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics.” This could mean that performers wearing padded bras or prosthetic breasts could be found in violation of the law.
LGBTQ advocates fear that because the law is so broad, any individual who does not wear clothing conforming to stereotypical or traditional gender norms could potentially be accused of being “in drag” in public, thereby allowing law enforcement to harass, arrest and prosecute transgender people for leaving home dressed as the gender by which they identify.
Well-known Houston entertainer Lana Blake told MONTROSE STAR: “Abbott is vile. And doing anything and everything to be as hateful as possible. The hatred being the point. He’s put that horrible floating contraption with razor sharp blades in the Rio Grande to literally kill people fleeing oppressive countries. He’s killing people at our southern border and refuses to back down even after the Biden administration told him to remove the device. But I digress….
“Drag is not a crime. It’s not sexual. But even if it is sometimes, I perform in establishments that are 21 and up (so no children are around). What the f*ck are you trying to accomplish here, Mr. Abbott? I already said, ‘The hatred is the point!’ I am just trying to go to work and pay my bills and taxes. You, sir, are attempting to stop that for no other reason than to be a bully!
“The major concern I have is for the trans community. If I, a trans woman, go to the grocery store and happen to be singing the song playing on the sound system (as I do quite often) and a mother with her child ‘clocks me’ as being trans, she can have me arrested for that act because I am ‘performing in drag in front of her child.’
“ITS COMPLETE MADNESS AND I’M ABSOLUTELY ANGRY AND SCARED! ABBOTT AND HIS CRONIES MUST BE STOPPED!”
Cristina Andrews and Shanice Monroe prepared a joint statement for MONTROSE STAR. “We feel very strongly against the law. It affects us in many ways because we, as trans performers, are affected in everyday life and professional life. We are seasoned entertainers who have been performing since 1997 on Galveston Island. We’ve made a family in this art form and have even walked in the Mardi Gras parade in Galveston in front of children and their parents,” reads the statement.
The pair were featured in a documentary about drag and the LGBTQ community where they were seen handing out Mardi Gras beads to kids. They pointed out that they along with other performers at their home bar, Robert’s Lafitte, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for toys and school supplies for children.
“We are not perverts, molesters, or anything they are saying about us. Drag is an art form about expression, freedom, confidence, self-respect, pride and love. We, as artists and entertainers, are role models, not to just kids, male and female, but to adults,” added Cristina and Shanice.
Elections have consequences and Texas has chosen to place a party in power that seeks to single out a small minority group, no matter the hurt or damage it causes, to further their agenda. An agenda where exerting their will over others is all that matters. This isn’t the Twilight Zone. This is real!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of the Montrose Star. Johnny Trlica is the editor of Houston Rainbow Herald Facebook page and has been published in several newspapers and magazines. He grew up in Rosenberg, Texas, lived for over 30 years in the Montrose and now resides in Galveston, Texas. He may be contacted at HRHeditor@gmail.com.