Point of Pride From Stonewall To Drag Queens in Ohio

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Four proponents testify in support of Ohio drag ban bill — including a member of a hate group

Drag queen bill: Supporters don’t want events with kids, testify at legislative hearing scheduled during Pride Month

Ohio’s proposed “drag ban” could easily be abused to become a vehicle of anti-trans harassment

Ronald Reagan and AIDS

Ryan White

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[0:01] Christian Nationalists have introduced a bill in Ohio that would deem the very existence of trans people as obscene. When will we get a law that outlaws the Christian Nationalists’ bigoted views about LGBTQ people? I’m Doug Burger and this is Secular Left.

[0:23] Music.

[0:34] We are currently in the month of June, and the month of June is typically when the LGBT community celebrates pride. And they’re celebrating their community, the ability to be able to be themselves and be open in public and not have a fear of being arrested or any of that sort of thing. And so they do that in the month of June. I’ve been to Toledo’s Pride Festival, which is usually typically held in August.

[1:09] And it’s always a good time, and I appreciate them being able to have their celebrations.

[1:17] You know, most people typically don’t know the origins of Pride or why it’s in June. but it was basically because of the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969. It was in the early morning hours of June 28th, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village of New York City. It wasn’t the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back against government-sponsored persecution, but it was the defining event for the gay rights movement in the United States. It coalesced all of this angst and bitterness and tension against the state and against government that was trying to eradicate them and keep them in the closet, and it allowed them to burst forth and really organize and try to get some.

[2:20] Rights, some basic human rights. Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 60s. Those that did were often bars, although the bar owners and managers were rarely gay. The Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons, but it was known to be popular with the poorest of most marginalized people in the gay community, drag queens, representatives of a newly self-aware transgender community, effeminate young men, hustlers, and homeless youth.

[2:52] And police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s. Now remember, back in these days, in the 60s and 70s, many cities and many states had laws against homosexuality. And so the police departments in many of these cities would go and raid gay bars. Because people would know where these places were. You know because that’s how that’s how they promoted the bars and the locations you know you’d hear by word of mouth and so police informants would find out and then they would raid the place and and a lot of times these cops were on power trip oh that sounds familiar were on power trips and they would beat the gay men or or hassle the lesbians or whatever and caused them a lot of trouble. When they raided the Stonewall Inn, that was like the last straw for many of these people. It attracted a crowd that was incited to riot. And it’s famously known that a drag queen threw the first rock and started the riot, helped start the riot.

[4:07] Tensions between New York City police and gay residents at Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening and again several nights later. Within weeks, village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.

[4:28] So that’s the Stonewall Riots. That’s why Pride is the month of June, because they’re celebrating them fighting for their basic human rights. Imagine that. In the 1960s, not only did African Americans have to fight for their basic human rights, but so did the LGBT community. And that just shocks me as an American to know that that’s what they had to do. You know, I’m a white cisgendered man, so, you know, I didn’t ever have to struggle that way. I take it upon myself to be an ally and support the community when I can. And I’ve made sure that our group, the Secular Humanists of Western Lake Erie, is an inclusive and open community for anyone. Even people that might believe in God and are religious, they’re still welcome in our community because we welcome everybody.

[5:37] But particularly, we make sure that we welcome others who may be marginalized in the community, such as people of color and in the LGBT community. So we go ahead, and that’s in 1969, all through the 70s. And then we get to the 80s, and there’s the AIDS epidemic. Even though the LGBT community are less likely to be arrested by the cops, they’re still marginalized. And we see that perfectly when we see the government response to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. In fact, President Reagan naturally assumed, just like everybody else did, that it was a gay disease.

[6:24] And they weren’t going to put any effort in to help the LGBT community to respond to the AIDS crisis. The federal government actually didn’t start getting into dealing with the AIDS crisis until it reached the suburbs. Believe it or not when when suburban white women started coming down with aids and suburban white men started getting aids then the federal government started getting into trying to address it one of the famous incidents ryan white the school kid in indiana who was ostracized by his class, and by the school board because he had AIDS. He had gotten AIDS from a blood transfusion. But because people thought it was the gay disease, they harassed him and forced his parents to remove him from school.

[7:25] And that was not from the kids, that was from the adults, thinking that him just being in the class, their children was going to catch AIDS. That was a belief, believe it or not. Well, we just came through a pandemic where people thought that the vaccine would make you magnetized, so I guess that’s not as surprising as it sounds, that people would think that you would catch AIDS if you were in a room with somebody that had AIDS, because that’s not how it worked. So then we come up to, you know, there’s been more and more acceptance of gay people in the United States and in the world. Pride festivals have broken out in unlikely places, like my hometown, Finley, Ohio, which is about as red Republican as you can get.

[8:17] They’ve had a Pride festival for several years now. They have a very strong and vibrant LGBT group that operates down there. They have a place for LGBT youth and adults to hang out together. It’s a safe space for them. Well, there’s an even more, someplace that’s even redder than Finlay that’s had a Pride Festival the last four years, as a matter of fact. And it’s the town of Celina, Ohio. It’s in Mercer County. It’s in north central Ohio. It’s about 50, 60 miles north of Dayton. It’s on the banks of the St. Mary, Lake St. Mary’s. And Lake St. Mary was used to funnel water to the canal that used to run through the west side of Ohio during the 1800s. And so Celina is on the shore of this huge lake.

[9:21] And they’ve had Pride Festival the last four years. Well, after the 2022 event, the Christian nationalists in town really got up in arms. And they claimed that drag queens were obscenely dancing for kids. And people shared videos that supposedly showed this. That young kids, like seven or eight-year-olds, were giving money to these dancers, and these dancers were twerking and gyrating, and that’s what they said. Trying to say, well, it wasn’t a family-friendly event, and it was in a city park.

[10:04] So people were in up in arms. So it was coming up to the 2023 festival.

[10:11] Christian Nationalists tried to get the Pride Festival canceled. Well, not to get the festival canceled, but they were trying to get the Celina City Council to ban drag performances. Because here’s what it is. These Christian nationalists, they believe that drag performances are always obscene. Here in this country, we have a thing about where you can’t pass a law to ban a particular viewpoint or action for being obscene. There’s a certain process you have to go through to be considered obscene. If you try to ban an activity and you automatically say it’s obscene, most of the time it’s going to get thrown out by a court as being overbroad and vague. And so the city council could not find a way to ban drag performances without risking court, a court case. So they elected to do nothing. And there was just so much bigotry.

[11:16] From the people talking about this, the city council president happens to be a pastor of a local church who is anti-LGBT. And he was upset that they couldn’t come to a consensus to ban it. And so when the event happened, when the Pride Festival happened, happened. Christian Nationalists had a group of protesters wearing red shirts, matter of fact, standing outside this Pride Festival. Well, also who showed up was the Proud Boys in their masks, their black masks, which was interesting. And it showed pictures from the the event that were published on the Buckeye Flame, showed that the church people mingled with the Proud Boys, and I’m sure they probably knew who they were.

[12:15] One of those protesters, one of the Christian nationalist protesters, was State Representative Angela King, who happens to be the sister of the Celinas City Council President, which is very convenient. in. So she decided to get together with a representative from around here, Toledo, Josh Williams, who represents District 41. And they introduced a bill in November, House Bill 245, to ban drag performances where kids will be around. And again, they consider drag performances when kids are around to be automatically obscene. Even though he went through the motions of trying to deny it during testimony when he introduced the bill, Representative Williams has said that he believes drag performing is automatically obscene. So if you have a drag performer doing like a story time at the library, he believes that that’s automatically obscene. Just to exist, he believes that it’s obscene. It’s ridiculous, but that’s what he thinks. For more information about any of the topics covered in this episode, check out our show notes at secularleft.com.

[13:36] Music.

[13:42] So, Representative King and Williams introduced House Bill 245 back in November of 2023. And what I wanted to do is I wanted to play a couple of clips from their proponent or their introductory testimony that they gave back in November when introducing this bill. And I want you to take a note that Representative King offers no actual concrete proof or reason for this bill, other than that she’s upset that kids got to see drag queens performing. forming. Representative Williams, but on his one, he actually had some questions asked to him, and the ranking member, Representative Brown, asked him about previous laws that were similar in Texas and Tennessee and Montana that were thrown out because they were unconstitutional. And I want you just to note how Representative Williams answers the question from Representative Brown. House Bill 245 simply puts in place important measures to protect children from being exposed to cabaret performances that are marketed to adults with adult themes, imagery, and performances.

[15:08] To those who believe that this is a solution in search of a problem, We’ve seen obscene performances taking place where minors are present here in Ohio.

[15:33] The catalyst for this bill actually came from my own community. I was appalled to watch a video of a family-friendly event held in our city park, where adults were dancing provocatively for children, who were then rewarded with cash handed to them by young children. One of the performers, dressed in a skimpy thong leotard, twerked and gyrated on the concrete. The same adult, then seated on the ground with his legs spread open, raised towards the sky, gave a view of his crotch area for all to see. I appreciate the chair’s indulgence. Thank you.

[16:18] I’m aware of several U.S. District Court cases which have reviewed laws which I believe are very similar to House Bill 245. House Bill 245. And these cases, these district courts have held that those laws were unconstitutional in various ways, including containing unconstitutional content-based restrictions, unconstitutional viewpoint-based restrictions, unconstitutional because they’re overly vague and overbroad. And these cases I’m referring to come from very red states, including Texas, Tennessee, Montana. Are you familiar, Rep. Williams, with those cases? And if so, how do they, do they differ in your mind from the legislation that is before us today? Through the Chairwoman to Ranking Member Brown, I am familiar with each one of those cases, and they differ substantially from the bill that we introduced. So when we looked at drafting this bill, we knew those cases were pending. Some of them have been settled since then on constitutional and most of them were based on the premise.

[17:21] Certain types of performances were automatically obscene. And that’s where the viewpoint discrimination came into play because you had to look at the type of performance and automatically assign it obscenity. We’re not basing it off of any type of performance. We’re saying that this category, these categories of performances, only if they rise to the level of obscenity, does it then become illegal. So it’s based on the conduct of the performer. So when we start talking about what is obscene in the state of Ohio, we’re talking about things like simulated masturbation, full-born nudity, right? These type of conduct, that shouldn’t be done in the presence of a minor. The question becomes, why do we believe that obscenity should be allowed in the presence of a minor? When for decades we’ve said across the board we shouldn’t be doing that in the presence of children because we’re going to sexualize them. Now, because we include a bill that expands the definition to a certain type of performer that doesn’t like that, now all of a sudden we’re supposed to remove all these prohibitions from the books in the state of Ohio, and the answer is no.

[18:27] We’re going to be held to the same standard we’ve been held for decades, which is adults who want to engage in adult activity do so in adult environments where children are not present. If you want to engage in adult activities, make sure kids are not around. And if you’re a performer, you’re going to be held liable in the state of Ohio if kids Kids are around while you’re engaging in obscenities like simulated masturbation. So that was Representative Brown, who’s the ranking member of the committee, and Representative Williams, who is vice chair of that committee and co-sponsored that bill.

[19:01] Now, somebody may get into semantics with me where they tell me, well, Representative Williams did not write in the bill that such performances were automatically obscene. He explained that, talked about the Miller test and everything like that. But let me be clear.

[19:24] He may not have used those words directly, saying that drag queen performances are automatically obscene. But he did say that those drag queen performances were automatically adult in nature. And that no kid should be able to view them. And that, to me, is viewpoint discrimination. Discrimination, because he’s assuming that a drag queen performing, that is, a drag queen just existing, because that’s what a drag queen performance is. They’re always performing. They’re not just twerking and gyrating or, what did he say, simulate masturbation, which I find it hard to believe that a drag performer at a family-friendly event would have simulated related, uh, uh, masturbation for one thing. And so, you know, he’s not talking about that those are automatically obscene, but they’re inferring it, that it’s only adult in nature, that you can only have a drag performance that is adult and that, uh, appeals to the period interest, you know? And so basically they’re still, they’re, they’re substituting one viewpoint, one viewpoint discrimination for another.

[20:50] Because in the part that I didn’t play from Representative King, she said that Shakespeare in the Park or watching the movie Mrs. Doubtfire would not be a violation of the law, of this proposed law. And see, that’s where they’re saying that a drag queen that is performing Performing, and they don’t define performing, should only be viewed by adults. And that’s where the problem comes from.

[21:24] The other issue, too, is the fact that the law is very detailed and that applies to people who dress not of the gender of their birth. And they had a writer, N.V. Gay, on Ohio Capital Journal that wrote an opinion piece about that.

[22:19] It says, it’s attacking transgender people, you know, and saying that they’re only viewable by adults, that they should only be out in public by adults. Because you can have this debate about whether or not something is a performance or not. You know, what if they have a transgendered woman who is singing in a choir? Well, they are performing. and they are not dressed in the gender that they were born as. So you could have somebody file a complaint.

[22:57] That’s how vague and open to interpretation. And Representative Brown also let Representative Williams know, too, and again, when they had proponent testimony just the other day, that there are currently laws that protect children from obscenity. And what these Christian nationalists want is they want to be able to ban drag queens. Pure and simple. That’s what they want to do. They don’t care what they’re doing. They don’t care if they’re reading the books to the kids. See, they think that that’s an adult performance. Anytime a drag queen shows up, they believe it’s obscene, or as they call it, adult.

[23:39] So they’re just substituting another violation of the First Amendment with another. So what I did was, and the reason why I’m bringing all of this up, especially because it’s Pride, was that this House Bill 245 was introduced in November. Well, last week it got its second hearing. It’s June, Pride Month, and they decided to have a hearing on an anti-drag performance bill. The second hearing, and it was the proponent hearing. So you had Jeffrey King, the pastor, the Celina City Council president, showed up. You had the usual suspects, somebody from the Center for Christian Virtue, and all those wonderful people.

[24:33] And the other thing that I noticed whenever they have these anti-LGBT bills that get introduced. They did this with House Bill 68, and they did this with House Bill 445, which would force schools to allow Bible classes during the school day.

[24:55] The sponsors of these bills have been bringing in ringers to testify. These are out-of-state people that have an agenda, and they’re from an extremist group. For House Bill 68, they had Riley Gaines, the Olympic swimmer who is anti-trans, give testimony. She’s not from Ohio. They also had somebody from another group, a trans person who regretted being trans, and I think they were from Indiana or someplace like that, but they were out of state. For House Bill 445 with the Bible class, their first testimony came from a lawyer from First Liberty, which is a religious right legal defense fund place. And the guy wasn’t even from Ohio. He’s from Texas.

[25:51] So then for House Bill 245, they brought in Jana Warnicke from Florida, who is a chapter leader of a group called Gays Against Groomers. And Gays Against Groomers is designated as a hate group. Even though Jana Warnicke claims to be a lesbian, and she claims that the group is made up of LGBT people who are anti-trans, trans, so basically she would be a TERF, be a TERF against trans people. So she gave the first testimony on House Bill 245, the proponent testimony. What I wanted to do is the Buckeye Flame, which is a great LGBT newsletter and website, you really should check it out. They They had 13 quotes from the proponent hearing. So this is from Jana Warnke, Gays Against Groomers. She says, now we wouldn’t be shocked if this bill faced some opposition. But let’s be clear, anyone opposing this bill is, in essence, telling on themselves. So basically, she’s saying that anybody that’s opposed to House Bill 245 is a groomer. And then Josh Williams, during the questioning part, says to her, Again.

[27:16] This is a hate group. And so Representative Richard Brown, who’s the ranking member, and this is the Judiciary Committee, the Judicial Committee that does the criminal laws. And so Representative Richard Brown is the ranking member. He’s the Democrat. Democrat and he asked Jana Warnicke whether she thought all drag shows were harmful to children and obscene, including drag story hours that teach literacy to children and give out free books. And Warnicke said, yes, they are harmful to children. And that’s the same attitude that Angela King and Josh Williams have. Then we had David Mahan from the Center for Christian Virtue said, ironically, he said, it seems we have a protected class that gets to do these things, but he’s forgetting that there are no legal protections for LGBTQ plus individuals in the areas of housing, employment, or public accommodations, so they’re not a protected class in this case for what they’re considering.

[28:35] And then they had Sean Meyer, who happens to be an extreme Christian nationalist pastor, who kind of flirts with Nazis and white supremacists. And he made the comment, he said, Several of the drag queens were discovered to be AFAB, assigned female at birth, performers who are essentially strippers, which isn’t true.

[29:07] And then he says, why don’t we hear of drag events in nursing homes? The answer seems obvious. One audience is far more impressionable than the other. So basically, he has the attitude that kids are being recruited. Okay, and then we have Jason King. I thought it was Jeff King. My apologies. Jason King, who’s the brother of Representative Angie King, the co-sponsor. He said, I have served our community for over 14 years as the president of our city council. I also serve as a high school wrestling coach. Aside from being a pastor, which is my full-time job, I enjoy the titles of husband, But I think probably my favorite quote was the last one from Pastor Jeff Turing, who submitted written testimony, who said, “…all children raised in a healthy environment are acquainted with a healthy respect for shame.”.

[30:07] They inherently know to turn their head during a nude scene during a rated-R movie that is restricted to 17 and older. But House Bill 245 is a bad bill, and it’s meant to attack the LGBT community, in particular trans people. There’s specific language in that bill that attacks trans people. And, you know, you would think that this being Pride Month and the Stonewall riots happened in 1969, you think that we would be in a better place today. Well, we aren’t. We have a lot of work to do. And one of those things that we need to do is stop electing these bigots to the legislature and start electing people that are going to help the community instead of hurting the community. And that’s what we need to do.

[31:28] Us your comments either using the contact form on the website or by sending us a note at comments at secular left dot u.s. Our theme music is dank and nasty composed using amplify studio.

[31:50] Music.

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