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An advertisement for Elite's Aug. 12 drag show in Poland, TN.
Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Tennessee town fights LGBT agenda, tries to ban drag show

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges
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Portland Mayor Kenneth Wilber

PORTLAND, Tennessee, September 18, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) -- A Tennessee town is in the process of banning drag shows after citizens complained that they don’t want an “adult-oriented business” operating in rural parts of their town. 

Portland City Council acted on addressing the citizens’ concerns by crafting a law that, if passed, would relegate drag shows to the city’s industrial zones, removing them from residential or business areas. 

It all came about when Elite Drag Star Productions put on two successful drag queen shows at the Envy Bar on Main Street this summer. In drag shows, men dress as women to impersonate them, often in sexual ways. 

Portland Mayor Kenneth Wilber said he and city council members received several phone calls from concerned citizens about “not wanting this in our community.”

Many were concerned that the drag shows were not family friendly, and that the events also served as an occasion for promiscuous hookups and to propagate homosexuality. 

Last week city officials passed the first reading of an ordinance amendment that would classify drag shows as an “adult-oriented business.” Classified in this way, drag shows would not be zoned for residential or business areas, but only in industrial areas. While not banning drag shows altogether, the amendment would essentially prohibit them from being in family-friendly areas in the town. 

Currently, the town defines “Adult oriented businesses” as “entertainment that may be erotic in nature; including exotic dancers, table dancers, private dancers, strippers, or similar entertainers.” The amendment would add “male or female impersonators” to that list. 

Mayor Wilber supported the ordinance’s proposed addition. 

“The values of our community are reflected in the ordinance. We do not want those types of things in our normal business district, so I support it 100 percent,” he said.

But Elite co-owner Kyle Guillermo took issue with his drag queen show being labeled “adult” entertainment, saying: “We are not taking our clothes off.  We are not cabaret.”

Some Christians believe that it is immoral for a man to dress as a woman. They cite Deuteronomy 22:5 where it says: “A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.”

Elite co-owner Raymond Guillermo, a drag queen himself who performs as “Jessica Monroe,” said if the city council relegates his show to industrial districts, there will be few places to put the show on.  

“There would be no possible way to perform in Portland,” he said.  “There are churches, schools, residential areas everywhere. This is just their way of getting us out of Portland.”

But Portland City Planner Andrew Pieri explained that the amendment does not ban drag shows. 

“We are saying that those activities can occur in the city of Portland, but only in the proper zoning district,” he clarified.

A larger fight over the ordinance is brewing. Chris Sanders of the LGBTQI Tennessee Equality Project called the proposed Portland city amendment unconstitutional.  

“This ordinance...limits artistic expression,” he charged, saying it would violate First Amendment rights.  He added that it violates constitutional equal protection because “it regulates gender.”

On Friday, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Tennessee inserted itself into the town’s affairs, demanding that the city scrap the amendment. 

"It's discriminatory and unconstitutional to single out male and female impersonators in a bid to shut down their speech. If members of the city council are uncomfortable with the drag show, they do not need to attend the performance. But they can't ban it," the ACLU of Tennessee stated in a letter it sent to the town. 

Portland City Council is scheduled for a second vote on Monday, Sept. 18.

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