Our Voice: Hypocritical morality in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

Most agree with the old saying “practice what you preach.” However, it seems that those who preach loudest about morality are breaking their own morals.

Over the past few weeks, many states across the country have been pushing anti-drag legislation. In Tennessee, a bill successfully passed a bill that restricts “adult cabaret performances” in public or in front of children. Many Tennessee legislators fear that drag performances are inappropriate and dangerous for children. 

Since then, it has come out that two politicians who supported anti-drag legislation have participated in drag-like performances in their youth. In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Lee, who signed the law to ban drag in public, is dressed in drag in a high school yearbook photo, according to the Associated Press.

Similarly, Texas Rep. Nate Schatzline wrote an anti-drag bill to be implemented in Texas. According to ABC, videos of Schatzline resurfaced of wearing a dress in public.

In their responses to hypocrisy accusations, Lee and Schatzline seem to feel as though it is silly to compare their actions to self-identified drag performers.

“What a ridiculous question that is,” Lee said in response to an activist while taking questions about the bill. “Conflating something like that to sexualized entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious question.”

However, one may argue that the broadness of the legislation would make these acts illegal as the definition of cabaret entertainment in the bill is extended to “male or female impersonators.” 

Further, it is an act of hypocrisy to engage in an act of impersonation or crossdressing in public but create laws that state that it is illegal for others to do it. Politicians point to nuance, but they do not extend this nuance to the overwhelming majority of drag performers who do not act sexually in front of children.

Sometimes the morals broken are more serious than just hypocrisy. Charles Sutherland was arrested for spray painting the word “groomer” on two libraries during Pride last year. According to Insider, he has recently been charged with possessing child abuse material. 

Why is it that those who contribute to the rhetoric that the LGBT+ community is predatory towards children are those who are accused of being predatory towards children? It is frustrating to see that those who contribute to the harmful stigmas surrounding the queer community project their own immoral faults on an easy target.

Another example of this hypocritical projection can be seen within religious institutions. Several Catholic priests, who commonly preach that having a queer identity is immoral or harmful to children, are being exposed of child sexual abuse. Why is there so much emphasis on sheltering children from drag, but according to ABC, almost 1,700 priests and clergy accused of sex abuse are unsupervised and are now allowed to become teachers and coaches and live near playgrounds?

 It should not be the case that those who are hateful or discriminatory on the basis of morality or religion are those who are committing the actual immoral acts. The LGBT+ community should not be a constant target to project morals onto, especially when the supposed morals are questionable.