Like It or Not, Drag Is Here to Stay
I have never been to a drag show.
I don't have anything against them, it's just not something I think I'd be interested in.
Having said that, I would like to know when drag shows began to be compared to sex shows? I want to know exactly when it was decided that Mrs. Doubtfire and Madea were "groomers." I want to know when seeing a man dressed as a woman or vice versa became a traumatizing, life altering event for children.
Drag has been part of American culture for a very long time. Think back through your childhood about all of the movies and TV shows that featured drag performances. I grew up watching Bosom Buddies, Some Like it Hot, Yentl, Victor/Victoria, Tootsie, and a whole host of other films and shows that featured both men and women in drag. I can remember watching TV variety shows that featured bona fide superstars making appearances with their drag impersonators (attached to this commentary is a picture of the legendary Dolly Parton with one of her drag impersonators. I suppose Ms. Parton is a “groomer” now too). No one ever accused my parents of "grooming" or "sexualizing" their children for letting us watch and I wasn't traumatized or sexually confused by any of it.
My children grew up watching Mulan, The BirdCage, and Madea. Tango and Cash is one of our family's go-to "guilty pleasure" movies - and it contains a scene where Kurt Russell dresses up in drag. One of the biggest laughs my daughter and I ever had together while watching TV was seeing Kiefer Sutherland - Mr. Tough-guy-super-manly Jack Bauer himself - appear on David Letterman's show wearing a dress because he had lost a bet about football. Again, no one accused me of "grooming" because I exposed my children to that content and my children didn't feel "exploited" over any of it.
So, all this leads me to ask - why is all this NOW suddenly a problem?
A Drag Show is just that - A SHOW. People wear wigs, make-up, sing or lip-synch popular songs and dance. Contrary to the right wing propaganda being pushed on social media, there's no pedophilia or grooming going on at these shows. The only thing happening is people having a good time and being happy. Drag is a form of performance art - nothing more and nothing less.
And honestly, if your personal religious convictions make you feel that all of this is "wrong" then there is a simple solution that will save your soul; just don't go - don't participate in it. If you feel VERY strongly, simply don't support the businesses that host these events.
We are all Americans and we are all allowed to believe in whatever we want. But we don't get to force other people to bend to our belief system and we don't get to bully others into adhering to our religious doctrine. We don't get to file charges against people for simply living a lifestyle we don't approve of. We don't get to threaten to take their children away (and honestly, the threat of calling child protective services to report legal activity that parents approve for their children to participate in seems more than a bit hypocritical from the "parents' rights" crowd). We don't get to film and dox them. We don't get to yell and scream vile names and obscenities at them and try to forcibly prevent them from entering a gathering or event.
Back in March, the Sunrise Theater hosted a screening of the right-wing propaganda film The Miseducation of America. I didn't like that. Kinda ticked me off. Know how I handled it? I didn't phone bomb them with complaints. I didn't leave them fake bad reviews on social media. I didn't call for a boycott. I didn't set up across the street with a camera to film who was coming and going. I didn't picket. I didn't buy a ticket to "infiltrate."
I just didn't go.
Now that the Sunrise Theater is holding a drag show, some of the very people who were praising them for hosting The Miseducation of America are harassing the owners and the staff. I'm sure we will see a "Hugger Mugger" style protest on the streets of Southern Pines complete with armed Proud Boys and "infiltrators" in downtown Southern Pines on December 3.
What Moore County needs to ask itself is if the real value that the Sunrise Theater brings to the community deserves to be sacrificed based on the religious whims of a very few radical activists (some of whom do not even live in Moore County). Is the drummed up and totally fake outrage about Drag Shows really worth putting those owners who provide such a valuable resource to Southern Pines through hell?
I encourage those of you who DO value the Sunrise Theater to show them your support.
I encourage those of you who are so bent out of shape about something so silly just to stay home.
Drags Shows are not "sex shows." Drag Shows are NOT "illegal." Drag performers aren't groomers.
Come to think of it, the only grooming I see going on in Moore County is the radical right-wing activists trying to groom everyone else into sharing their hate and intolerance.
Like it or not, Drag Shows are here to stay. They are part of our culture. If you don't like it, just just ignore it. Preach against it in your own church. Forbid you children from watching it.
But stop trying to bully the performers, the hosts and the attendees into bowing to your warped version of Christianity.
Just stay away.
***Commentary by Cheryl Christy. Cheryl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.