Featured Photo by Kendall Burrill
Story by Baylah Close
La Shonda Mims, assistant professor in the Department of History as well as Women and Gender Studies, held a panel during the LGBT+ College Conference to discuss the history of drag and how it is being used today as a cornerstone to ban pride celebrations in the state of Tennessee.
Mims is a queer historian and author of “Drastic Dykes and Accidental Activists: Queer Women in the Urban South” and spoke to the attendees to provide a better idea of the history and culture surrounding drag.
Tennessee is no stranger to drag culture. History holds a tradition of “womanless weddings,” in which men would dress as women, often suggestive and sexual. They were held as fundraisers by conservative organizations.
The difference between these “womanless weddings” and drag performances can be laid out simply: one was led by elite white men, while the other is inherently queer in all aspects.
Pride has been attempted to be shut down all throughout history in the south.
Mims spoke of her experience with a fundamentalist Christian conservative organization based out of North Carolina. Mims, a queer mother, attended a pride celebration with her son. Members of this organization, Operation Save America, allegedly stormed the pride event in North Carolina.
“They were like a swarm, taking over pride and taking pictures and videos, and they came for my son with their camera,” Mims said. “We literally were sitting in a group of women, and we start gathering everything we could to block him from their cameras.”
Pride celebrations are said to be incredibly important to the LGBTQ+ community. Many members have repeatedly fought for their rights to celebrate.
In times when seemingly anti-LGBT+ laws are being passed, many are speaking out against these in hopes to cause a change.
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