Iconic Drag Performer CT Hedden Speaks Up About The Attack On Drag Queens

by Alexander Hankin · April 3, 2023

    In the last few months the US has seen an increase in bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community, including drag performers. Most notably, the bill in Tennessee that was signed into law by Governor Bill Lee to ban adult cabaret in public spaces, the rationale being that it would "protect" minors from, uh, colorful makeup and snatched wigs, we guess. The bill goes on to define “adult cabaret” as “adult-oriented performances” that would include “male or female impersonators.” However, the bill has been temporally blocked by a federal judge in Tennessee for being “both vague and overly broad.” 

    If it does end up being upheld, most worry that it would create a slippery slope towards the infringement of First Amendment rights. It’s important to note that the bill refers to public spaces and not private spaces, but this would mean limiting the ability of drag performers to participate in parades and marches and to ultimately fear simply being seen in public. Additionally this law sets a precedent for a slew of other states including Texas, Kentucky, Arizona and others to follow suit.

    The laws have come under heavy criticism from both the political sector and celebrities alike. RuPaul, perhaps pop-culture's most famous drag queen, called the targeting of drag performers "a classic distraction technique, distracting us away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs, healthcare, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school."

    Parody account RuPublicans has taken to mocking republican law makers by creating digital content putting them in drag, while GLAAD, ACLU, PFLAG, and countless others have taken action to raise funds to fight in what will be likely be drawn out legal battles fighting these bills.

    Cue outspoken, internationally renowned nightlife drag performer, CT Hedden. CT has been extremely vocal on this matter, and can now add "political activist" to his already-impressive resume. Despite the public outcry against these bills, CT notes that there's one corporate community that has been particularly silent about them: fashion. An industry that is usually at the forefront of speaking up for liberal values has been disappointing when it comes to the attack on drag queens.

    "Drag Queens are at every show, front row! From Milan to Paris to New York. The brands want us there, but they need to stand up for us now," says CT. "We're in ads for them, we performed at their parties, and now it’s time for them to step up." 

    It does seem strange that so many fashion houses have be slow to make a statement. "Maybe it’s because companies like Neiman Marcus are headquartered in Texas?" CT muses. Another point he brings up is the fact that "fashion now is so gender non-conforming. Men carry purses and wear dresses. Every band does. So who is to say that these legislators won’t say, well hey boys can’t wear skirts - that’s drag and that’s now illegal." It's true that the mere freedom of expressing oneself through fashion is now threatened.

    Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get involved and help the drag community fight back. One of which is to join CT on April 26th for Drag Queen Story Hour: A Protest and a Celebration Presented by LGBTQ+ members' club Serif and PLFLAG on April 26th at the Shanghai at Hutong

    CT will be joined by Kevin Aviance, Dorinda Medley, Councilman Erik Bottcher, Geneva Carr, Gillian Hearst, Adam Porter Smith, and me(!) along with Serif Founder/CEO Brian Tran and Head of Partnerships and Events Scott Buccheit for an evening to make our voices heard and support our queens.

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