Comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart sat down with Oklahoma Senator Nathan Dahm for an interview regarding the state’s potential ban on drag performers. Oklahoma’s move to pass legislation banning drag performances comes after Tennessee governor Bill Lee successfully passed the first bill to restrict them. The “adult cabaret performances” are to be prohibited on public property or anywhere that they can be viewed by minors. The consequences of a violation could be up to six years of prison time.
Following this bill’s passage, Lee also passed a bill banning gender-affirming healthcare for minors in the state of Tennessee. Healthcare professionals who violate the ban risk a $25,000 fine.
Several bills of this kind have circulated in a few southern states that are led by Republican lawmakers, including Florida. The drag bans go hand in hand with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay Bill, which would prohibit educators from discussing LGBTQ+ related topics in the classroom from kindergarten through third grade. The bill sparked outrage from both LGBTQ+ parents and allies who aim to teach their children acceptance.
The wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation likely comes from the ongoing discussion on Christian nationalism in Congress. Specifically, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado have both espoused these beliefs, with Boebert notoriously saying that she is “tired of this separation of church and state junk.”
In Stewart’s interview today, the longtime political commentator pointed out a major flaw in the Republican lawmakers’ arguments against drag performers–that they have never been a leading cause of death for children, and that assault rifles remain the leading cause of death. In 2023, there have been 80 recorded mass shootings.
Jon Stewart: “What’s the leading cause of death among children in this country? And I’m gonna give you a hint: it’s not drag show readings” pic.twitter.com/xRBp3MilZN
— stacy (@StacyCaySlays) March 3, 2023
Stewart’s comments were met with mixed reactions on social media, as drag performances remain a politically divisive topic. Many were supportive of Stewart’s ability to reference statistics and not solely his personal opinions in the interview.
“You’re pivoting to anecdotes”@jonstewart remains one of the best interviewers on American television. Please watch this till the end. Especially the voter registration vs gun registration analogy. An absolute masterclass. https://t.co/za57DaSo5c
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) March 3, 2023
Stewart further grilled Dahm on the topic of gun safety, and Dahm explained his goal of removing the licensing process of acquiring a firearm.
Jon Stewart: Does training (in order to own a gun) make you safer?
Nathan Dahm: Yes.
Stewart: And you would remove that as mandatory?
Stewart: So, you are making us less safe.
Stewart: Are you familiar with logic?
Dahm: ???? pic.twitter.com/bFhqhljw60
— Nate Morris (@_natemorris) March 3, 2023
The building anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric combined with potentially more relaxed gun laws can have dangerous consequences. In November of 2022, Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a gay nightclub, was massacred by a 22-year-old gunman. Five were killed and 25 were injured.
The amount of politicians discussing the stripping of LGBTQ+ rights in several states has already inspired several hate campaigns. In Nashville, a sign depicting the shape of Tennessee with a swastika in the middle of it was hung on the Chestnut St. Bridge. It was also adorned with several anti-LGBTQ+ slurs.
UPDATE — INBOX: NASHVILLE folks tell us they took down the NAZI SIGN hung on the Chestnut St. bridge, which thanked @GovBillLee for “tirelessly working to fight trannies and fags” adding “we must secure a future for white children”.
How proud you must be, Guv. pic.twitter.com/s8tXmLuQWG
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) March 2, 2023
A drag performer was arrested for protesting Tennessee’s legislation.
Police arrested a Black transgender woman for speaking out against TN's governor after he said he'll sign bans on trans health care and drag shows. A drag queen was arrested earlier for shouting "DRAG IS NOT A CRIME" https://t.co/PdxyKuJnga
— Gillian Branstetter (@GBBranstetter) March 1, 2023
Stewart’s interview is allowing the news of new legislation to translate accessibly for viewers who do not follow the local state politics of the several states that are affected. Many Twitter users have come to the defense of drag performers, and continue to voice their thoughts on the real protections that today’s children need.
As a cisgender woman, I’d first like to say that I have never get my womanhood threatened by a drag queen or drag king, and I’ve been around many.
Secondly, drag bans are just an easier way to criminalize trans folks and further oppress the LGBTQIA+ community. And it’s working.
— Ali ???? (@allibecc) February 28, 2023
Regardless of what happens, the show will go on for the LGBTQ+ community.