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Dem Lawmaker Expertly Shames Arkansas Bill Classifying Drag Shows The Same As Strip Clubs

State Senator Greg Leding pointed out how the state ranks on more pressing child welfare issues in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor.

screenshots of Senator Greg Leding from TikTok

Democratic Arkansas state Senator Greg Leding expertly tackled GOP-sponsored legislation to classify drag shows the same as strip clubs.

He pointed out Arkansas has a low ranking on more pressing child welfare issues in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor.

Leding stood up for LGBTQ+ rights in the process at a time when the right-wing has ramped up attacks against LGBTQ+ people and used drag shows as a scapegoat.

You can hear what Leding said in the video below.


Democratic Senator Greg Leding drops the mic on the senate floor in opposition of SB43 which bans drag and gender nonconformity in Arkansas #ARLeg #ARpx #Drag #SB43 #StopTheBans #DragIsBeautiful

Leding said:

"How many kids do we think in Arkansas are unintentionally witnessing drag performances? How often do we think this is happening?"
"Where do we think Arkansas ranks in children who have seen a drag show?"
"I know we're number two in child food insecurity, we're fifth in child mortality, we're seventh in child death by firearm, and 16th in teen suicides."
"Where do we think we rank in the number of children who have seen a drag show?"

The state senator added:

"Our daughter has seen one. My wife and I, both Christians, took our daughter to one at The Momentary in [the town of] Bentonville. She had a great time [and] the room was full of families."
"All people saw were people who clearly put a lot of work and time and expense into performing for people."
"There was loud music, there was dancing, all anybody experienced was the joy of watching people do what they love in a room of people to support them. And maybe loud music and dancing is not your thing."

Leding addressed the harm the bill will cause.

"I'm an introvert who likes a quiet room all myself but I really can't say this bill is going to do anything to protect kids."
"It will hurt kids, particularly kids who struggle to feel welcome and safe and accepted as though they belong in Arkansas and they do belong in Arkansas regardless of who they love, how they identify, or what they wear. They very much have the right to feel welcome and safe and loved as the rest of us."
"I can't imagine how they feel when they watch their legislature demonize their community and make them feel as though they're somehow a threat to their peers just by being who they are."

He concluded:

"So who does this help? Who does this hurt?"
"It's going to hurt a lot of people."

Many praised Leding for his spirited opposition to the legislation and criticized Republicans for backing it.

The bill in question—Senate Bill 43—ultimately passed, putting drag performances in the same category as strip clubs and porn shops.

It was sponsored by Republican Gary Stubblefield of District 26 and co-sponsored by Republican Representative Mary Bentley of District 73.

Stubblefield said "I can't tell you" when reporters asked him to identify any instances of children witnessing "adult behavior" at drag shows.

Bentley said she heard of a drag parade in Little Rock where "emergency contraceptions" were "tossed into the crowd where children were present" but reporters could not verify her claim.