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Actors' Equity Fights Tennessee Drag Act

By Charlotte Robinson, April 24, 2023

Actors’ Equity Association has filed an amicus brief in the Western District of Tennessee opposing the state’s law intended to limit drag shows. Equity argues that the court should grant a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the ban from taking effect. Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity Association stated, "News flash to the Tennessee legislature: drag performance is not inherently 'prurient'. Have they ever heard of Shakespeare? The Ancient Greeks? Live theatre has always had male actors (in drag!) playing female roles & vice versa. This law is not just an unconstitutional attack on drag performances & the LGBTQ+ community; it is an attack on the live arts & free expression. It is also quite clearly part of a much broader campaign in which Republican legislators use transgender/non-conforming human beings as political footballs, which is as cynical as it gets, but at least perhaps a metaphor they will understand. Our members want to work in Tennessee, but they want to feel safe in their workplaces. This should not be an impossible choice. Tennessee’s billion-dollar arts & culture sector is being put at risk by these endless hateful attacks & this unconstitutional law should never be allowed to go into effect.” According to Americans for the Arts the nonprofit arts & culture sector, Tennessee is a $1.17 billion industry that supports 38,482 full-time equivalent jobs & generates $135.9 million in local & state government revenue. The industry generates another $700 million in additional spending by audiences, economic activity that pumps critical money into local Tennessee businesses. 

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