Freedom Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Pride Alliance, and ACLU of Oklahoma Call On Legislature To Reject Drag Censorship Legislation
OKLAHOMA CITY - Today, Freedom Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Pride Alliance, and ACLU of Oklahoma rallied together with drag performers and allies across the state in the call to reject HB 2186, a direct attack on freedom of expression and the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Oklahoma. HB 2186 is part of the wave of anti-2SLGBTQ+ legislation being introduced in state legislatures across the country. This coordinated political attack targets trans people, 2SLGBTQ+ communities, and Oklahoma values of fairness, freedom, and equality.
“It’s a fundamental principle of our democracy that the government can’t discriminate against people — or silence them — based on the content of their speech. These laws do exactly that, baselessly and harmfully targeting 2SLGBTQ+ people,” said Cindy Nguyen, Policy Director of ACLU of Oklahoma. “Laws like this have a long history of hurtfully and pointlessly arresting and criminalizing 2SLGBTQ+ people, giving police permission to raid bars like Stonewall and arrest trans women for simply existing in public. Bans on drag performances limit everyone’s freedom of speech. And while drag has a special place in 2SLGBTQ+ culture, people of all races, backgrounds, and genders have been using drag to express ideas for centuries. The First Amendment guarantees a right to express yourself – including how you express your gender. This freedom of expression makes our culture stronger.”
“Let’s be clear, bans on drag performances are designed to target Two Spirit, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer people and force us out of public life by restricting who is ‘allowed’ to wear certain clothing or look a certain way,” said Nicole McAfee Executive Director of Freedom Oklahoma. "Some Oklahoma politicians are working overtime this session to exploit our fears and divisions so they can grab and hold onto power, and in the process they deny us the basic rights and respect that all people deserve. They are willing to align themselves with white supremacists to maintain power. We have seen this rhetoric result in violence in Tulsa already, and it is shameful the Oklahoma Legislature is making more space for our community to be harmed. These politicians want to turn us against each other because when we join together, we are powerful. A broad spectrum of power and joy and resilience that was on full display from Oklahomans who showed up in opposition to this legislation today.”
“What is unfortunate about the legislation and policy attacking the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is that it is still riding on the same rhetoric of “Save Our Children'' radicalized by Anita Bryant which attempts to frame our community as one that wishes to cause harm to minors which we know couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Kylan L. Durant, President of Oklahoma City Pride Alliance. “See, that narrative is one that leaves out 2SLGBTQIA+ children. In fact, it purposefully does nothing to ‘protect’ them while our community continues to be at the forefront of making sure ALL children are safe and free to be their authentic selves. Where is the focus on gun safety in schools? Where is the focus on fixing our failing school systems? Where is the focus on finding innovative solutions to provide equitable access to opportunities for all children? Drag has been an art form that has brought healing, freedom, safety, and protection to many including youth. Drag is a form of queer joy. Queer joy is lifesaving. Let it be clear that we will fight for that joy.”
HB 2186 advanced from the Oklahoma House Judiciary-Criminal Committee today by a vote of 5-2.
Nicole McAfee, they/she
Cindy Nguyen, she/her
Kylan Durant, he/him