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Republican drag queens

January 27, 2023

In violation of their Party Oath, cute little Republicans in Congress and statehouses have turned U.S. politics into a drag show.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

I taught English in drag one day in a public high school. So why not come and handcuff me now, Gov. Ron DeSantis? You little bitch.

Republicans in eight states have introduced 14 bills to prohibit drag queens from reading age-appropriate books to children in public libraries. Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia will soon be joined by Montana and Idaho, according to The Guardian, an English newspaper that has no dog in this hunt.

Florida led this goose-stepping dance line, with its “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” signed into law last year by the flamboyant poseur De las Santitas — Spanish for “She among the little saints.” (I am being ironic here.)

In Taunton, Mass., neo-Nazis disrupted a story hour at a public library this month, and chanted threatening slogans outside it. Way to “model behavior” for children, neo-Nazis!

In Montana, a bill in utero (I am being ironic here) would fine any school, library, or any employee of a school or library $5,000 if they allowed a minor to go to a drag show reading hour.

“Most of the proposed bills include defining a drag performer as someone performing while using dress, makeup and mannerisms associated with a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth,” The Guardian reported.

Wow! Pick one dress or mannerism and stick with it for life!

How about brown shirts, with armbands optional, all you eGOP lawmakers? (eGOP: eGregious Oldpeople’s Party.)

eGrOPers in Arizona (I am being ironic here) want to bar drag shows within a quarter mile of a school or public playground. And a Nebraska bill would subject to arrest anyone younger than 18 who attends a drag queen story hour.

PEN America pointed out that many of these eGOP bills could subject to arrest any high school girl who played Peter Pan in a school play, as Mary Martin did, to public acclaim, way back in 1960.

And how about “Some Like it Hot,” the 1959 movie in which Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis pretend to be women, alongside Marilyn Monroe, who was not pretending? I guess we can’t watch that show anymore, in an eGOP state.

eGOPers in Texas, always competing with Florida to see who can goose-step higher and faster, have introduced four punitive drag queen laws; and South Carolina’s “defense of children’s innocence act” would make it a felony to allow a minor to go to a drag queen reading hour.

Headed to the Supreme Court: How about little boys dressing up as witches on Halloween? Felony or misdemeanor? Prison time or a re-education camp?

Gov. Santita this month also prohibited Florida schools from offering Advanced Placement Black History Classes. Why would he do that, do you suppose? Could it have anything to do with the fact that it was illegal for Florida state universities to admit Black students until 1958 — four years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling?

OK, enough politics for now. Let me tell you about the day I dressed in drag to teach high school. I’d been living and teaching on the rez for five years.

I lived in “teacher housing,” behind the high school — eight little comfortable apartments for teachers who couldn’t hack the daily 120-mile round-trip commute from Tucson, or, like me, preferred to live on the rez.

At the end of our little block lived a curriculum specialist, a white Ph.D. who spoke fluent Mandarin. His daughter was in my English class. Everything she turned in was top notch. However, one day in late March, she failed to turn in an assignment. Just blew it off. So I sent a failure notice to her parents. Not because she was failing, but because I thought they’d want to know.

They got the failure notice on March 31 — with predictable consequences for their darling daughter. The next morning — April Fools Day — we bumped into each other as we walked to school.

“Mr. Kahn,” she said, “that was not fair.”


“That you sent a failure notice.”

“You blew off the assignment.”

“But I’m not failing!”

“You will if you keep blowing off assignments.”

“But I’m not failing your class!”
“Listen,” I said, “you have to learn to take responsibility for your actions.”

“But …”

“No!” I said, “and your inactions.”

Now here is my point: While we debated the philosophy of fairness, I was wearing a skirt and a frilly blouse I’d borrowed from another teacher, and a funny hat. And my Converse high tops. While telling my A student how she had to learn to be “a responsible leader,” and so on. 

We got to the cafeteria and I strode in in drag. About 100 kids were eating breakfast. Some looked up at me, in my dress and ruffles. A few shook their heads, then everyone went back to eating their Quaker oats.

“Just Kahn,” they thought. “So he wore a dress? So what? He’s done a lot of other weird stuff. Who cares?”

They all had better things to do. 

Now, Ron the Little Saint is not the only eGOPer who treats lawmaking as performance art. Republicans in Wyoming this month introduced a bill that would make it illegal to sell electric cars in their state in 2035. Then they said they didn’t mean it — it was just a way to diss California, for its resolution to prohibit sales of gasoline-only cars in that state by 2035.

Or Ohio’s eGOP Gov. Mike DeWine, who signed a bill this month to “legally define” natural gas as “green energy.”

Republicans have abandoned any attempt to craft legislation for the good of the republic. They’d rather sashay around, slapping their macho scarves in our faces. Performance lawmaking: Just a drag show.

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