JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Despite a state law that prohibits some public drag performances, Johnson City’s Pride Community Center is continuing with plans to feature drag at it’s Pride Month event.
“I am not worried,” Pride Center Co-Founder and President John Baker told News Channel 11. “I look forward to a fabulous, love-filled festival like we did last year.”
He said Pride Community Center never changed its plan to host the Gypsy Queens, a drag group, as emcees during their June 24 event.
“We planned to go ahead and go forward and hoping that cooler heads would prevail and would see that this was unconstitutional, and the law would be overturned,” Baker said.
Friday, a federal judge in Memphis ruled the law unconstitutional, arguing that it violates the First Amendment. However, the ruling only applies in Shelby County.
“I’m glad to see that a judge has agreed that this was immediately a First Amendment infringement for our community, especially targeting our community,” Baker said.
The group’s Rainbow Festival will feature vendors and musical performers at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion in downtown Johnson City. The event is ticketed at the cost of $1, but children are welcome, said Baker.
“There were kids there last year, and they loved the drag shows,” said Baker. “We’re responsible adults and we know the difference between a burlesque performance and just a drag performance to entertain.”
WJHL reached out to local lawmakers for their reaction to the ruling. One lawmaker responded but was not available for an interview. The rest did not respond.