Texas Republican behind anti-drag law spotted in video dressed in drag

Lawmaker Nate Schatzline accuses ‘left-wing media’ of ‘twisting’ narrative surrounding clip

Joe Sommerlad
Thursday 02 March 2023 17:05 GMT
Nate Schatzline
Nate Schatzline (Twitter/LivingBlueTX)

A Texas state representative behind an anti-drag bill has been seen in a video on social media in which he can be seen apparently dressed in drag himself.

Fort Worth Republican Nate Schatzline appears in the 90-second clip, widely shared on Twitter and TikTok, sporting a black sequined dress and scarlet eye mask and is credited at the end under his own name as playing a character called “The Virgin”.

In the video, Mr Schatzline skips arm-in-arm through a park with three co-stars, one of whom is disguised as a gorilla, before being chased down a path by a young woman apparently dressed as a Frenchman, complete with beret and moustache, who swings an inflatable hammer at him, all of which is set to Javi Mula’s track “Sexy Lady”.

The first-term lawmaker and former pastor has declined media requests concerning the short film but did appear to confirm his involvement when he replied to an account that posted it.

“Nate Schatzline has made his entire personality attacking the LGBTQ community, trans especially children, and vowed to ban drag shows in Texas. Here is Nate… in drag,” the Living Blue TX Twitter account wrote of the clip.

Mr Schatzline replied: “Y’all really going crazy over me wearing a dress as a joke back in school for a theatre project? Yah, that’s not a sexually explicit drag show… lol y’all will twist ANYTHING.

“Michelle, please find something better to do than look up old videos from when people were in school.”

He has since followed that up with a good-humoured video of his own, this time set to Dr Dre, in which he says the”left-wing media” is simply “twisting” the narrative against him as part of a bid to “intimidate” him, urging his followers to laugh off the matter before signing off with a “faith, family, freedom” message.

Conservative efforts to suppress LGBT+ rights issues have become a growing culture war battleground in recent years, from Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation prohibiting discussion of the subject in classrooms to an alarming incident last summer in which members of the far-right group the Proud Boys crashed a “Drag Queen Story Hour” event for kindergartners at a public library in Alameda County, California.

Panda Dulce, the performer hosting the event, wrote on Instagram afterwards that the agitators had behaved aggressively, shouted homophobic slurs and “totally freaked out all of the kids” before being removed once the police were called.

However, the controversy is also generating accusations of hypocrisy around Republicans, with Tennessee governor Bill Lee and New York congressman George Santos just two high-profile GOP figures accused of engaging in drag in the past while otherwise toeing the party line.

The legislation being proposed by Mr Schatzline in Texas is known as HB 1266 and seeks to amend his state’s Business and Commerce Code to redefine any venue that hosts a “drag performance” and “authorises on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages” as a “sexually oriented business”.

Such businesses, according to the code, “may not allow an individual younger than 18 years of age to enter the premises of the business”.

The bill defines a drag as “a performance in which a performer exhibits a gender identity that is different than the performer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, or other physical markers and sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience for entertainment.”

It characterises a “sexually oriented business” as “a nightclub, bar, restaurant, or other commercial enterprise that provides for an audience of two or more individuals a drag performance.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in