East Tennessee State University students who organized a drag show set for today are being asked by university officials to make sure all in attendance are 18 and over, TV news station WJHL reported.
The event, which was conceived as a protest statement against a new state law restricting drag shows, has been moved to a larger venue called the Millennium Centre that’s owned by the university but across the street from the main campus. Organizers previously planned for the event to take place at a student center auditorium.
“The event is being relocated to the Millennium Centre in order to accommodate the crowd and possible protests, to better manage the age verification requirement, and to implement increased safety precautions for those participating,” a university spokesman said in a statement.
A Tennessee law taking effect Saturday prohibits “adult cabaret entertainment” featuring “topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators” from taking place on public property or where performances can be viewed by individuals who are not adults.
“Though this event is happening the day before, as a public institution, we have a responsibility to honor legislative intent,” a university spokesman said in an email to WJHL.
Noah Nordstrom, a student organizer, said he has “faith that our community, at the end of the day, is a loving community, and that we aren’t going to have violence and that we aren’t going to have so much animosity.”
Campus drag shows have been the subject of recent controversies elsewhere. A college president is being sued in Texas for canceling a planned drag show organized by students.