Bill Lee: Image Appearing to Show Tennessee Governor Dressed in Drag Surfaces as State Moves Forward with Anti-Drag Bill

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Bill Lee
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee appears to be dressed in drag in one of his high school yearbook photos shared on Reddit. Reddit/Wikimedia Commons

An image appearing to show Tennessee governor Bill Lee in drag has gone viral on social as he is set to approve a bill that will make drag performances illegal in the state.

The photo was shared on Reddit on the r/PoliticalHumor subreddit. The user who posted it noted in the caption that the image was found in the 1977 yearbook of Franklin High School.

'Hard Luck Woman'

The picture seemingly shows the governor in drag costume posing alongside three other women. "Hard Luck Woman," the image is captioned.

The photo instantly went viral on social media with users calling out the Republican party's hypocrisy, after images appearing to show U.S. Rep George Santos participating in drag shows while he was a teenager in Brazil surfaced last month.

"I want to see Bill Lee and George Santos explain their gop party's rules against things they do," wrote one user, while another commented, "It's is the nature of the Right's hypocrisy."

The Anti-Drag Bill

The bill, which makes it a criminal offense to engage in an adult cabaret performance or a drag show on public property, specifically in the view of minors, passed the Tennessee House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 23.

The bill will now head to Gov. Bill Lee's desk where he expected sign it into law. A first violation of the law would be a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 11 months and 29 days in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent violations would be classified as a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $3000.

The bill, if signed, would update existing laws regarding adult cabaret performancesthat regulate things like strip shows to more strongly target drag shows in the state and limit the kinds of venues they can be performed in. It also expands the definition to ensure any sort of drag performance would be considered an "adult cabaret performance."

Currently, the existing Tennessee law already considers "male or female impersonators" as a form of adult cabaret performance. The bill adds more specificity to the definition to include, "male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar entertainers, regardless of whether or not performed for consideration."

Lee Dressed as Confederate in University Yearbook Photo

This isn't the first time Lee's yearbook photos have made waves on social media. In 2019, Lee drew criticism after he was seen wearing a Confederate uniform in a 1980 Auburn University yearbook photo.

The photo, included on a page in the Kappa Alpha section of the yearbook, shows Lee and another man smiling while wearing a Confederate army style uniform and posing with two women in period costumes.

Lee attended the public university in Alabama from 1977 to 1981 and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity that held annual "Old South" parties in which members dressed up in Confederate uniforms, according to The Tennessean.