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Lesbian bar denied insurance coverage because it hosts drag shows

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The owner of Houston’s only lesbian bar said she was denied insurance because the bar hosts drag shows.

“A couple of months ago I was checking on changing my insurance broker and was told by an underwriter that they WOULD NOT insure us due to our drag shows. I have the email to prove it,” Julie Mabry, owner of Pearl Bar, wrote on Instagram.

“Last year Pearl grossed more in sales than MANY of the clubs in our city. We paid over $300k in TABC & Sales Tax, alone! That’s a lot of revenue for the state, isn’t it? We are just a little ole’ lesbian bar that hosts drag shows, drag bingo & so on.”

Mabry told Click 2 Houston that the insurance company said it wouldn’t take on the risk of covering a bar that hosts drag shows.

Right now, the legislature is considering a bill that would ban drag shows from public places or anywhere children are present.

But Mabry emphasized that the bar is 21+ and as such, children are never present for drag performances. Even with the bar’s age restrictions, and even though the law has yet to pass, Mabry said the insurance company specifically told her the denial was because of drag shows.

“So why are they already denying us if we are a 21+ club?” she wrote in her post. “BECAUSE THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE IS SPREADING HATE!”

While Mabry remains covered under her current plan for now, bar owners are required to reapply for insurance every year. Mabry worries that if the costs skyrocket due to the “risks” of drag shows, the bar will have to close.

Mabry said after she received the denial from the underwriters, she cried for a week.

“I’ve worked my whole life to have my dream come true. I honestly can’t believe we are here in 2023 but you’ve seen the posts; Big-name performers in Tennessee posting about how they’ve been warned that if they have drag queens they will be legally reprimanded. Well — think about the BARS! Not some big show that happens in a city once a year, but somewhere where people go every single day!”

She then issued a call to action.

“Celebrities all over the world need to start speaking up against all these states trying to ban drag. Before you know it, you’ll be next. No representation in film or on the radio. Sounds absurd? That’s what I thought two years ago.”

In the comments, Mabry also responded to criticism that she was drawing attention away from the drag performers who were actually being targeted.

“We are speaking up for drag performers,” she said. “It would be a lot easier to just cancel our drag king show, drag bingo and drag karaoke and get new insurance. We will NOT cancel our drag shows and hurt their income.”

Drag queens are the far-right’s latest target in its anti-LGBTQ+ crusade. GOP politicians and extremists have labeled drag queens with the “groomer” slur and perpetuated the false claim that all drag queens abuse children.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed the nation’s first-ever drag ban, a law that bans “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest” from appearing “on public property” or “in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult.”

Other similar bills are being considered by legislatures across the country.

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