The Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race host spoke out against new, restrictive laws that limit drag performances and gender-affirming care for Tennessee youth.

RuPaulthe Queen of Drag — has decried a recent onslaught of political tactics targeting the drag and trans communities.

Though Ru didn't mention any politicians or bills by name, he shared an impassioned Instagram video Wednesday, days after conservative Tennessee governor Bill Lee signed into law legislation that severely restricts certain drag shows and bans gender-affirming care for trans youth in the state. The Emmy-winning RuPaul's Drag Race host criticized the move as one mounted by bullies targeting vulnerable people in American society.

"'Hey, look over there!' — a classic distraction technique, distracting us away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs, healthcare, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school," Mama Ru said in the video, referencing Drag Race winner Jaida Essence Hall's iconic quote from the season 12 political debate challenge with Jeff Goldblum. "We know that bullies are incompetent at solving real issues. They look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective. They think our love, our light, our laughter, and our joy are signs of weakness, but they're wrong, because that is our strength. Drag queens are the marines of the queer movement. Don't get it twisted and don't be distracted. Register to vote so we can get these stunt queens out of office and put some smart people with real solutions into government.

"By the way," he finished, "a social media post has never been as powerful as a registered vote." He then linked to a donation page for the ACLU's Drag Defense Fund, created with Drag Race production company World of Wonder, which gives users the option to donate money to help the organization fight for LGBTQIA+ rights.

In late February, state lawmakers voted 77-16 to move the legislation to Lee's desk, and he signed it into law on March 2. The bill prohibits adult-oriented performances, including "male and female impersonators," from public property and in the presence of children, regardless of the nature of the show — including the popular family oriented Drag Story Hour readings, which aim to promote acceptance among kids. It is not a total ban on drag performances, though members of the drag community have spoken out about the measures as a potential segue into further restrictive laws around the country.

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"I am deeply upset and saddened to hear about the drag ban in Tennessee. The state [proposed] this bill to protect children from seeing anything explicit, when in fact, it is a mask used to hide the discrimination toward the LGBTQ+ community and the desire to erase drag. Public indecency is already illegal in Tennessee, this is yet another awful attempt at trying to take away our rights," Drag Race season 15 contestant Aura Mayari — who was born in the Philippines but ultimately settled in Tennessee before joining the show — exclusively told EW in February, noting that the bill "wrongfully targets our trans community" beyond drag artists. "People come to our shows to have a good time and to escape the cruel reality of life. Drag brings joy and inspiration to all audiences. Drag changes people's lives and that's what pushes me to continue fighting for our community."

Alongside Aura, Tennessee natives and fellow Drag Race alums Eureka and Jaidynn Diore Fierce also spoke out against the bill in exclusive statements to EW, with their voices joining a growing number of entertainers who've slammed the restrictive measures. On season 3 of HBO's docuseries We're Here, Eureka also endured similar political pushback from the town council in St. George, Utah, who met to discuss concerns over "sexual-related issues" while Eureka, Shangela, and Bob the Drag Queen planned a drag show near public children's spaces, like the St. George Children's Museum and the Town Square Park.

RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 7 winner and Chicago Broadway star Jinkx Monsoon criticized the political tactics on social media, tweeting that "ours is a revolution of love, empathy, and truth."

"You can't ban those things. We will fight this battle the way our predecessors did: with grace, compassion, and throwing a brick if we have to," Jinkx tweeted.

Bob — winner of Drag Race season 8 — stressed that "if you watch Drag Race, Pose, Legendary, Dragula, etc. you need to make your choice heard. These anti trans/ anti drag bills are actually starting to make their way through, and after that have taken down trans and nonbinary people... GAY BOYZ, YOU'RE NEXT!! Trust and believe."

Memphis entertainer Bella DuBalle resisted the laws in a speech at a February performance.

"This is an attempt to erase drag in Tennessee. This bill will further harm trans people who are literally just living their f---ing lives," she said in a video shared to her Instagram page. "Pride began to commemorate the events of Stonewall. Back in Stonewall, we weren't allowed to do drag. It was criminalized. So, what happened when the cops came in and tried to beat us down? We picked up them bricks and set them packing. The original Pride was a riot, and, if this year, we need to remind them that we will fight for our liberation, we will raise our bricks high again and let them know that we will not go quietly."

In June 2022, drag performers representing all corners of the industry, from Drag Race (Alyssa Edwards, Denali) to The Boulet Brothers' Dragula (Maxi Glamour), also hit back at a Texas bill that would've banned minors from attending drag performances.

"Kids are future rockstars, they're future painters, future museum curators or even future art critics. It's important they grow up in a world where art is all around them," Maxi wrote at the time. "Because in the future they'll be the ones keeping it alive."

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