“Truth is the revelation of God’s nature and power. Says the word became flesh, and we have seen his glory. Jesus Christ is the true life command —” “And this was not a thing last year. We would just drive right in. I think some people can misconstrue drag as inherently sexual when it’s just not the case.” Last year, the city of Franklin held a Pride Festival with drag performances like these. But after footage of the show circulated online, some members of the town launched a campaign to deny a permit for this year’s event, describing it as a threat to children. Then in early March, the Tennessee governor approved a law aimed at limiting drag performances in public spaces, further heightening the tension in Franklin. “We shouldn’t be subjecting our kids to this — period, end of story.” “Drag queens thrusting genitals in front of kids.” “God hates sodomy. And God hates Pride.” “I’m Spencer Lyst. I’m 17 years old and from Franklin, Tenn. And I am also gay.” “Pride is one of our only outlets to be with our communities and celebrate.” “Pride is not harming our children. Taking away a place of acceptance is harming our children.” “Hi, my name is Spencer Lyst. I’m 17. I’m on the Franklin Pride Advisory Board. I want to say that community decency starts with not tearing down our neighbors because we don’t agree with them. In the past, we just applied to rent the park out. That process was unanimously approved. And this year, it kept getting pushed back and pushed back. And then, people had a lot to say about it.” “And God help you with your decency rules because —” “There was about two hours of public comment.” “I don’t want to see a guy twerking in front of me.” “They took their votes, and the mayor was the tie-breaking vote, voting to approve the festival.” “The same First Amendment that we’re talking about tonight for religious groups also applies to the Pride group.” “But it came with a warning that we would be under a microscope.” “If you violate the trust that we’re placing in you right now, that I will work as hard as I work every single day to make sure that that event never happens in Franklin again.” “For some of us, it gave us anxiety. And for others, it was just like, OK, then we’ve just got to put on a great event.” Then on June 2, the night before the festival, a federal judge ruled the anti-drag law unconstitutional. But in Franklin, Pride organizers had already promised the city that there would be no drag shows this year. “Whoa! Let me hear y’all. C’mon, Franklin Pride!” “You know, sometimes it can be really difficult to find a community around here. That’s why we have Pride. Specifically, the teen lounge provides teens a space to actually meet other L.G.B.T.Q. teens. Really important to have just because a good amount of parents around here do support their children. And then there is a portion who don’t.” “We know of families where when their kids came out, the fathers divorced and flat out left everybody. I want people to know that I’m there for them.” “Are you guys having fun?” “This year unfortunately, they required us to remove drag from all of our performances, which is a big bummer because our teens love the drag performances. So hopefully, those will be back in the future.” “I don’t really believe Pride is Pride without drag. And the people seem very happy that there’s at least some drag here.” “I’ve been all three years, actually. And things were going really swimmingly. So it was a real shock when things kind of came to a screeching halt. This year feels more like a fight.” The attorney general of Tennessee, backed by some Republican lawmakers, has signaled plans to appeal the decision to overturn the drag ban. “It was different, I think, as opposed to previous years. You could definitely feel that you were being watched. But I don’t think there was anything bad to see.”

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