NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A new House Bill would strictly limit where drag performances could occur in North Carolina.
It was filed Tuesday morning and is less than a page long.
Emory Sloan is a drag performer, giving shows in North and South Carolina. Every day, he transforms into Erica Chanel.
“I did it once, and I actually love it,” Sloan said. “I’ve been doing it now for eight years. In the last four or five years, it’s my career; it’s my profession.”
But that career is in jeopardy with the new proposal that would ban drag performances in public places or the presence of a minor.
“All I could do was sit in my bed and cry this morning because I was so upset,” Sloan said. “I was so frustrated. I was so disappointed in North Carolina.”
House Bill 673 classifies ‘male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest’ as adult entertainers in the same legal category as strippers.
But the bill does not define what ‘prurient interest’ is or what constitutes a ‘male or female impersonator.’
Violating the bill would result in a misdemeanor on the first offense and a felony for subsequent offenses.
Rob Wilson has been performing for six years in drag, remolding himself into Crystal Brooks; he believes drag is very similar to what happens on television.
“I like to compare it a lot to how like the Disney characters are when you’re walking around the park,” Wilson said. “You don’t know who’s underneath that Mickey Mouse head, but like they’re there for the entertainment value and like we’re very the same way.”
Forsyth County Republican Representative Jeff Zenger is spearheading the bill.
In an email to Queen City News, Zenger said:
“There was an incident at Forsyth Tech Community College several weeks ago that raised constituent concerns over drag shows.
This bill is a response to those concerns expressed to me about age-appropriate entertainment.”
Sloan/Chanel was the performer at the event.
He says although the performance was at a college, high school students who attended the college were there as well.
“There was a group of girls, a group of, you know, black queer girls, and they were like just screaming, yelling,” Sloan explained. “I brought one down, sat in a chair, hovered over her and a page, picked it up, and, you know, said that I was grooming children.”
Sloan and Wilson say they’re here to stay no matter what happens.
“I will not stop no matter if the bill happens or not,” Sloan said. “I’m not going to stop doing drag because I know that we are affecting young children’s life that really need a role model in their life.”
If passed, the act becomes effective Dec. 1, 2023, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.
“We know what to do when in front of certain people and what not to do,” Wilson said.