Arts & Culture

Try to Take Away Our Rights? Judge Says “Hold My Pride Flag”

Percy Bartelt, opinions editor

Back in June of 2023, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 12 to go through the court for approval. This bill proposed that “sexually oriented performers” were not allowed in public or even commercial spaces or to appear in front of children under the age of 18. But thanks to U.S. District Judge David Hittner this bill was officially banned from moving forward on Sept. 26.

Obviously this bill proposal initially sparked outrage because… this wasn’t even happening. No children were subjected to “provocative” or inappropriate dances/drag performances like that. Yes, there are family friendly drag performers and they easily provide family friendly shows but the more “inappropriate” shows are only shown in clubs, bars or performance spaces where people under 18 or even 21 aren’t allowed into in the first place! This was clearly just an attack on LGBTQ+ performers, and thus safe queer spaces — we can’t even express ourselves without offending conservative values; who’re the “snowflakes” again?

LGBTQ+ organizations and drag performers from around the U.S. all rallied together when the second Senate Bill 12 was announced. There were even two official lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against various government bodies in Texas, stating that the “drag ban” went against our first and 14th amendment rights, because the bill “discriminates against the content and viewpoints of performances and imposes prior restraint on free expression.” as stated by the plaintiffs in these lawsuits.

In Judge Hittner’s official ruling – which was 56-pages long mind you – of the denial and ban of Senate Bill 12, his most prominent words in support of LGBTQ+ rights were that the bill “impermissibly infringes on the First Amendment and chills free speech.” It was seen as “unconstitutional,” and there is no better description than that. Hittners pointed out that the original bill – aside from just being a terrible and hateful idea – was also vague and overly broad. According to them, dance competitions, cheerleading and other theatrical performances would fall under these concepts and would in turn be prohibited because of this ridiculous ban. If that were to have happened, there would have certainly been an uproar, but not for queer rights. Texas is not the only state to introduce these bills – in fact, there are about 14 other states that are bringing them in, or already have them, including: Tennessee, Montana, Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and many others, according to Time Magazine.

It’s sad to see that after all of the progress we have made for queer rights, we see them being stripped away day after day. It feels hopeless at times, upsetting, angering and especially frightening. However, this ruling proves that something can be done to prevent these rights from being taken away from us. There is hope, and there is good news surrounding queer rights and movements, and this is just the first step.