BG drag group reacts to lawmakers working to restrict show locations

Bowling Green drag group reacts to lawmakers working to restrict show locations
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 6:39 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - A bill filed in Frankfort this week could essentially eliminate drag shows in the Commonwealth.

“They may take shows away, but they’ll never take drag away,” said James Chandler, Bowling Green drag performer.

Senate Bill 115 would require all “adult-oriented” businesses to be more than 1,000 feet from any house, park, school, church, library, or recreational facility.

“They’re trying to erase LGBTQ people across the spectrum, that what they are seeking to do is eliminate our safe spaces, crush the places where we gather,” said Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign.

A local group calls themselves the ‘Bowling Green Drag Family.’ The PrimaDonnas have been putting on drag shows at different venues for the past five years.

“When we’re doing our brunches, we do not curse in our songs, we do not wear revealing clothing, we try to be as respectful as possible. But if you go to one of our other shows I mean it’s no different than you going to go booty shake down there at the at another bar,” said James Oneal, co-owner of The PrimaDonnas.

Chandler has been performing drag in Bowling Green since 1994.

“It’s evolved so much. Now we’re doing brunch shows, we have Drag Bingo,” explained Chandler.

Local spaces that host drag shows include Donna’s and Ramen Bar off the square which are both near a public park or a church, similar to most other drag show locations across the state.

“We are at like a peak. And we’re finally feeling like we are a part of society and like what societal norms look like, and all of a sudden, they no longer want us to be a part of that,” said Oneal.

One of the owners of the PrimaDonnas, James Oneal adds that these restrictions on locations would make it difficult for drag shows to live on which would be detrimental to the LGBTQ+ community.

“In a world that is not part of the LGBT scene. They don’t see how much love and how much respect and how much kindness comes into our community,” said Oneal. “Eliminating our safe space would be terrible for anyone who is a part of this community.”

Hartman said that he doesn’t believe this particular bill will be a priority for lawmakers this session as there are roughly nine anti-LGBTQ bills already filed in the General Assembly.

“They are acutely focused on attacking transgender kids right now,” Hartman said.

So far, SB 115 has been introduced in committee and has been sent off to Veterans, Military Affairs, & Public Protection.