The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Protest planned against unconstitutional demands to stop Knoxville performance

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KNOXVILLE — A firewall is forming between those who plan to protest a Thursday night artistic performance and those who say the protestors are trying to stifle free speech and the right to self-expression.

Right-wing agitators plan an assembly protesting the performance of a “Drag Queen Christmas”, which has a curtain time of 7 p.m. at the Tennessee Theatre downtown on Thursday evening. Those at least tacitly supporting the demonstration include Farragut State Rep. Jason Zachary, who has invested a lot of time and taxpayer resources into his conviction that drag shows present a clear danger to the children of Tennessee. “Zachary is among the state legislators supporting a bill that would make it illegal to take minors to a drag show,” according to reporting from Knoxville Compass.

Meanwhile, children in state custody have slept on floors in random state offices for months.

The planned Gay Street protest against the performance has been amplified by right-wing notables such as “Nashville preacher Greg Locke, who has made international headlines for actions like a mass book burning and accusing members of his own congregation of being witches. Locke is an associate of Ken Peters, who leads the Christian nationalist Patriot Church in Lenoir City and is the driving force behind Thursday’s planned protest,” Compass reported.

Compass also reported that a heavy police presence is expected.

But some citizens have amped up their plans to counter the protest.

At least one digital flyer has made the rounds urging people to show up in support of free expression and human rights.

“We need numbers in front of the (Tennessee Theatre). And I mean right in front of it, on the sidewalk. We need folks willing to take the hateful heckles from fascists so that our community can safely enter, exit, and enjoy a fabulous event. I’m sure some folks on our side will have some entertaining things to say back to the haters as well,” according to one counter-protest flier.

“We might be outnumbered. Lots of shitty authoritarian theocrats are planning on coming,” added one organizer who asked that their name be withheld for personal security reasons. 

Hellbender Press presents this information in accordance with its editorial imperative to defend human rights.

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Published in Voices, Event Archive

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    ”While we take these necessary steps to remain open and serving the community while providing a safer environment for all, we ask for patience and understanding as we continue to navigate a challenging period in the Tennessee Theatre’s 93-year history.”

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    Some upcoming shows and events at the Tennessee Theatre into October include this week’s screening of the Goonies; three Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Masterworks Series performances; the Righteous Brothers; and an Alton Brown appearance.