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'We proclaim love' | Knox Pride Interfaith leaders speak on anti-trans and anti-drag show protests

Several people said they were organizing a "vigil" outside the Tennessee Theatre Thursday night, in response to an annual Christmas-themed drag show there.
Credit: Knox Pride Interfaith

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Leaders from Knox Pride Interfaith, a coalition of LGBTQ-affirming faith leaders, said they would hold a press conference on Thursday to discuss a series of anti-transgender and anti-drag performance protests and proposals in Tennessee.

"We call on all people of faith to oppose the anti-trans, anti-drag legislation being proposed by the Tennessee Senate and to denounce these anti-drag protests," said the coalition in a video statement. "We proclaim love."

The press conference is expected to start at 9:15 a.m. at the Knox Pride Resource Center.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Theatre said they planned to host a performance featuring drag performers — "A Drag Queen Christmas." It is the eighth year in a row that the show has gone on, according to its website. It also welcomes people of all ages, but after a discussion with Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, they included a parental advisory warning online.

This year, performers and organizers were faced with outrage from some groups across East Tennessee. They attended a Knox County Commission meeting on Monday where they asked commissioners to stop the show from going on.

During the meeting, commissioners specified that they generally could not pass resolutions affecting the City of Knoxville. During a public comment forum, members of those groups claimed it was adult content and some also claimed it sexualized children.

Members of those groups organized a "vigil" for 6 p.m. near the theater on the date of the drag show. 10News found social media posts organizing the "vigil." The demonstrations are largely organized through social media, from a page that claims to be managed by "Pastor Ken Peters - TCAAP." 

He is a figure who gained national attention for his involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection and for founding "The Church at Planned Parenthood" (TCAPP). He said they planned to sing carols and light candles near the theater until around 8 p.m.

A Drag Queen Christmas was organized for cities across the U.S. Before arriving in Knoxville, it was held in St. Louis and before that, Kansas City. There are five cities left in its tour.

According to promotional materials for the show, it included musical performances with characters dressed in drag and singalong sets with the audience. There was also a performance similar to the "Dance of the Sugar Plumb Fairy" usually seen in The Nutcracker, according to promotional material posted on social media.

As of Dec. 20, tickets were sold out for the show in Knoxville. It starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday, and doors open at 7 p.m. 


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