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A Tennessee city council wants to ban drag shows

The ordinance was purposed on September 5, in hopes to amend what it is currently classified as “Adult Cabaret.”
Photo credit:
Jessica Monroe - Facebook

City council members in Portland Tennessee passed a proposed ordinance which would ban drag shows in the small town.

LGBT activists are already planning to rally the proposal, reports News Channel 5, Nashville.  

The ordinance was purposed on September 5, in hopes to amend what it is currently classified as “Adult Cabaret.”

Supporters of the proposal would like to update the code to read, “activities in commercial establishments which feature adult entertainment that may be erotic in nature; including exotic dancers, table dancers, private dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators, or similar entertainers.”

Mayor Kenneth Wilber said he’s received feedback from citizens who are both for and against a new local law.

"We received several phone calls from concerned citizens about wanting this in our community or not wanting this in our community," the mayor said.

Local drag queens recently held a show at Envy Bar & Grill on August 12. This event was produced by Elite Performances.

In a Facebook post promoting the show, the bar said, “Some people have different opinion about this? But for me I think we all human trying to make a living. They didn't force anybody to come to watch the show.”

One response to that posting was Dennis Stubblefield who said, “I'm out and won't be doing business there. Used to have great lunches there. Good luck just not my kind of crowd!”

Performing as Jessica Monroe and co-owner of Elite Performances, Raymond Guillermo (pictured left) said the new proposal was very surprising.

"We were just in shock, it was very shocking. I didn't think just wanting to put on a drag show would cause such a big deal out in a small town. The reason why we went to Portland is because we had people from the city saying 'hey you guys are from Portland when are you guys going to bring the show to us'" Guillermo said.

City Planner Andrew Pieri said the shows can still go on, but they will have to be in the city’s industrial zoned areas, not the commercial ones.

"We support that right to free speech and freedom of expression. It just has to regulate to the proper zoning district," Pieri said. 

Guillermo however, disagreed. 

"According to the ordinance that I looked at there would be no possible way to perform in Portland. There are churches, schools, residential areas everywhere. This is just their way of getting us out of Portland," he said.

Local LGBT activists are claiming that if that happens they new law would violate performer’s First Amendment rights.

"Tennessee Equality Project joins local citizens in opposing the ordinance because of likely First Amendment violations and because government has no business passing measures that are gender restrictive. The ordinance sends a chilling messages to Middle Tennessee's LGBTQ community," Executive Director Tennessee Equality Project Chris Sanders said.

The council will take up the second reading on September 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Portland City Hall.

Elite Performances plan to attend and voice their concerns in front of the city council.