Carnes: It was perfectly fine for ‘Mr. Television’ |

Carnes: It was perfectly fine for ‘Mr. Television’

It was a pink negligee, stuffed with two large and pointy balloons to exaggerate the obvious, topped off with a wig, and I was in front of a few hundred people singing a song.

I was high as a kite to boot.

Fast forward 15 years and it happened again, this time complete with makeup, only my hair was so long there was no need for a wig. I wasn’t high but was comfortably numb from a few drinks, and in front of a few hundred people singing a song.

Did either involve nudity, stripping, explicit sexual or profane language, and pose an existential threat to “real” Americans?

Of course not.

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Both were fundraisers. The first in 1977 with half a dozen other high school seniors and the second in 1992 for the late Donna Del Bosco’s “Fresh Fruit,” the second coming of her “Yes, We Have No Banana’s” review, a local fundraiser to showcase the amazing hidden talents of Happy Valley residents.

The only complaints at the time were perhaps my vocal abilities and in the latter case a scruffy beard ruining visual perceptions.

Yet far-right segments of today’s GOP are now declaring such activities as the biggest threat to Americans and our (insert deity of choice)-given right to who the hell knows, second only to green M&M’s and certain Disney characters not being the correct skin color.

And all this time I’ve thought it was inflation, never-ending national debt, and the looming threat of World War III.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a proud GOP member, last week signed a bill to criminalize drag performances in public, his staff claiming that when Lee himself dressed in drag during high school it was a “lighthearted school tradition.”

Texas state Rep. Nate Schatzline, a proud GOP member, has proposed a similar bill in his state although he also dressed in drag during high school, claiming it was a joke for a theater project.

New York Rep. George Santos, a proud GOP member (for reasons unfathomable to me), performed as a drag queen, claiming he was “young and having fun.”

This pretend and hypocritical GOP outrage is clearly an election strategy to vilify and delegitimize LGBTQ Americans as realistic threats to the nation, thus pitting the peaceful and open-minded against the hateful and close-minded bigotry of those scared to death of anything and anyone different from themselves.

What in the world are these incredibly insecure people so afraid of?

These fascist-loving extremists on the right are obsessed with canceling any type of culture they don’t agree with, including books, social media, and all other activities that, in their myopic little minds, threaten their solipsistic versions of how the rest of us should live — according to their rules.

How ‘bout them Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders?

Anyway, to be perfectly clear, any sexually explicit activities in front of children is absolutely wrong on every level, but that’s not the issue here. The hollow exploitation of a segment of Americans based upon hate and used purely for political gain should be a concern for all of us.

Although I don’t see it happening again anytime soon in my world (I’m not as cute as I once was), from Milton Berle to RuPaul, dressing in drag has been a legitimate artistic expression that brings people together for fun and entertainment, not some absurd attempt at indoctrination of any kind.

That’s what fascist leaders and religious organizations are for.

Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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