Tennessee’s Anti-Drag Hysteria Started in a Rural Town 90 Miles West of Memphis
Tennessee Lookout: “In fall of 2022, nearly a dozen political and religious leaders met with Pride festival organizers in a back room of Jackson City Hall in West Tennessee. The shared goal? Hash out a deal over a drag show.
“Jackson’s third annual LGBTQ Pride festival was scheduled for the following month, and unlike the previous years, the event had grown beyond the usual music and games. Organizers had put together enough money for a 10-person drag performance.
“Jackson is a town of 70,000 in Madison County, Tennessee, located about halfway between Nashville and Memphis on Interstate 40. The county reliably leans Republican, while the city is more split, going 50/50 in the 2020 Presidential election.
“The city hall meeting was a dramatic affair, with Pride organizers storming out after a conservative pastor likened men dressing up in women’s clothing to blackface, but negotiations continued. Afterward, state lawmaker Chris Todd sued the city to stop the event. When that was only partially successful, he spearheaded the effort to create one of the nation’s first restrictions on drag performances.”