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Tennessee governor to ban drag shows – despite photo of him dressed in drag

Bill Lee says he will sign law criminalizing drag performances despite emergence of picture from 1977 high school yearbook

Lee dressed in drag during his high school days went viral on Reddit.

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March 6, 2023

Tennessee’s governor, Bill Lee, is facing accusations of hypocrisy after a photo of him dressed in drag went viral days after the politician confirmed that he would sign legislation criminalizing drag performances.

Lee, a Republican, announced on Monday that he plans to sign a bill passed previously by his state’s legislature that prohibits drag in public and in front of children. Lee also said he would sign a bill that bans gender-affirming care for Tennessee minors.

That announcement came two days after a picture of Lee dressed in drag during his high school days went viral on Reddit. In the 1977 picture, a young Lee wears a wig, a cheerleader’s uniform and a pearl necklace. The high school yearbook photo is captioned: “Hard Luck Woman”.

In a statement to the Daily Beast, Lee’s office said that “lighthearted school traditions” as seen in the yearbook photo should not be “conflated” with what the bill is banning. A spokesperson claimed that the comparison was “dishonest and disrespectful to Tennessee families” without elaborating on how that was so.

In a press conference on Monday, Lee was asked if he remembered “dressing in drag in 1977” and if drag was “only illegal when gay people do it”.