On April 18, Republican lawmakers in the N.C. House of Representatives filed House Bill 673, which would criminalize drag shows in the presence of minors statewide.
In the bill, the definition of “adult live entertainment” includes "male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration." The bill does not clarify the meaning of "prurient interest" or "male or female impersonators."
N.C. Rep. Jeff Zenger (R-Forsyth), one of the primary sponsors of the bill, said in a statement to WCNC that constituents were concerned after an incident at Forsyth Technical Community College in which a drag queen performed a lap dance on a high school student.
"This bill is a response to those concerns expressed to me about age-appropriate entertainment," Zenger said.
Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of the NC Values Coalition, said in an interview with ABC11 that while adults have the right to see adult performances like drag shows, they should not be imposed on children.
The proposed bill makes a first offense a Class A1 misdemeanor and subsequent offenses Class I felonies. Class I felonies are punishable by 3 to 12 months in prison. Other Class A1 misdemeanors include child abuse and sexual battery, while Class I felonies include domestic violence and terrorist threats.
“That’s a lot for just putting on some heels,” Lolita Chanel, a North Carolina drag queen, said.
She said the bill seeks to criminalize the transgender and queer communities.
“Everything you put into drag is nothing more than art,” Chanel said. “And the queer community, in general, has this as our base type of expression.”