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Tennessee Law Limiting ‘Cabaret’ Shows Raises Uncertainty About Drag Events

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NASHVILLE — A bill signed into law this week in Tennessee makes staging “adult cabaret” on public property or anywhere a child could see it a criminal offense.

The law forbids performances in those places by topless, go-go or exotic dancers, strippers, or male or female impersonators who, as the law defines it, “provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.” The word “drag” does not appear in the legislation.

And to some legal experts, the description provided in the letter of the law would not apply to drag as they know it. But many in the state are still trying to grasp how the measure will ultimately affect drag events, theater performances that involve drag, and even transgender and gender nonconforming people as they go about their lives.

The law is part of a cascade of legislation across the country fueled by a conservative backlash to drag events, which has also spurred protests from far-right groups and threats directed at performers.

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31.03 / 11:31
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