Melissa McCarthy shares statement in support of drag amid right-wing efforts to restrict performances
Melissa McCarthy has spoken out in defence of drag performers amid a battle in certain states to restrict where drag shows can be performed.
The Bridesmaids star, 52, addressed the current threat to gender expression, which recently resulted in the passing of a bill in Tennessee that effectively bans drag shows from being performed in public or in front of minors, on Instagram on Monday.
In the post, McCarthy shared a graphic of a number of notable drag instances in entertainment along with the statement: “You’ve been entertained by drag your whole life. Don’t pretend it’s a problem now.”
The post included photos of roles such as Robin Williams’ character in Mrs Doubtfire, a Looney Tunes character, Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, and Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies.
On Instagram, McCarthy shared the post along with the caption: “This.”
The post has since prompted an outpouring of praise for the actress, with many applauding her decision to speak out against the attempts to restrict freedom of expression in the US.
“THANK YOU. It’s been disheartening to see how few allies are bringing attention to what is happening. These drag bans are only the tip of the iceberg. A way to slowly desensitise the American Public to increasingly dangerous anti-queer rhetoric,” drag performer BenDeLaCreme commented. “I hope to continue to see celebrities and public figures speak up as more and more LGBTQ+ lives are endangered.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race star Pandora Boxx also agreed, adding: “Thank you! Drag queens are not the problem.”
“Exactly. People need to chill and realise it is entertainment. Nothing more, nothing less,” another person wrote.
Others noted that the history of drag goes back much further, with someone else pointing out that “every single female character in ancient Roman plays, and in all of Shakespeare, was played by a man”.
“Dran is an ancient entertainment art form,” they added.
McCarthy’s support for drag comes after she revealed in 2014 during an interview with Rolling Stone that she started her career in comedy doing stand-up as a drag performer named Miss Y.
“It was such a happy, good feeling, and it gave me such confidence,” McCarthy recalled of performing as Miss Y when she was 20.
Last week, Tennessee became the first state in the country to approve restrictions on where drag shows can be performed after a bill was passed by the Tennessee legislature and signed by Republican Governor Bill Lee.
Under the bill, it changes the definition of adult cabaret to include “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors,” and classifies “male or female impersonators” as adult cabaret performers, thus effectively banning drag shows from being performed in public or in front of children.
McCarthy’s decision to speak out comes amid calls for celebrities and notable figures to use their platforms to denounce the bill, which many regard as an attack on free speech and the LGBTQ+ community.