As one of the founders of Hamilton County Conservatives, I thought I would weigh in with some thoughts on the controversy around the recent drag shows. I certainly don’t speak for all conservatives, but given my history I feel that I understand the hearts and minds of the vast majority of conservatives. I have served on the board of a major GOP County, I have done drive-time conservative radio, I have consulted for and advised people running for everything from local office to President of the United States, and I was a primary candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010 in my birth state, Washington. So, I have a good feel for conservatives and how they think and believe.
Let me start by saying that conservatives do not hate the LGBTQ community. We certainly do not want any kind of “war” with them. Yes, there is a “battle of ideas” taking place in our country right now, with two conflicting worldviews, but I don’t know any conservative who wants to harm anyone in the LGBTQ community. In fact, before I became a full time author and speaker, I was a pastor. One of the women who came to my church, along with her partner, who I was friends with, was a lesbian who was murdered in one of the most outrageous attacks on a member of the LGBTQ community in American history. It shook us all to our core. We loved Teresa and her partner, Jen. I have seen this up close and it is horrible.
For the most part, conservatives are all about letting people do what they want to do. We are a bit libertarian in that regard. I think most conservatives think that if a man wants to dress up like a woman and dance on a stage, they can go right ahead and do it. “You do you,” as the saying goes. We have varying opinions on certain behaviors, but we also know that we live in a free country. I think one thing the LGBTQ community should know about conservatives is that we see a difference between acceptance and approval. While conservatives may not approve of behaviors, we accept that as a free American, you are entitled to engage in those actions.
The issue in the most recent controversy is not whether drag queens should be allowed to do their thing. Rather, it gets concerning when we see these agendas brought into the schools and other places that children are as well. There are even LGBTQ groups who agree with us when it comes to the interactions with children. The problem recently was the actual physical engagement between a young girl and the dancer at Wanderlinger Brewery. It is patently obvious and undeniable that this young girl was petting an adult up and down on the groin for five or six seconds. The camera doesn’t lie. No effort was made to stop the child from engaging in the actions. It wasn’t an “accidental brushing.” It matters not whether the dancer was male or female. This is about inappropriate physical activity between an adult and a minor.
Ultimately what conservatives are looking for is for those leaders in local government, both the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County, to at least admit what happened and investigate, not those who are drag queens, not whether or not they are entitled to have shows, but this specific event and the specific actions that took place. This would fall on the mayors, the D.A.’s and the police officials. Frankly, there is nothing we can really do except make our opinions known and leave this up to our elected officials who should be concerned with these kinds of inappropriate incidents. If we don’t like how they handle the responsibilities of their offices, we can vote them out.
Matthew 5:9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Not peacekeepers, but peacemakers.
Most conservatives hold the U.S. Constitution in the utmost regard but even more so, we hold the word of God as our roadmap for life. The Bible tells us to love. Jesus said it is how they will know we are Christians. This does not mean to approve everything, but to love in all situations. The scriptures tell us to “speak the truth in love.” There are two points to that. Speak the truth and love. Both are needed.
We live in a big melting pot of ideas and lifestyles. That is one of the things that makes America great. We are free. Conservatives want peace. But we also want to be able to share our ideas and have them exchanged in the marketplace of ideas, as should everyone. This is free speech.
We have lived in Chattanooga for almost a year now, having moved from Arizona, and we LOVE it here. It is a beautiful place with wonderful, welcoming people. We tell people that feel like we finally made it home. We need to learn how to get along and accept one another, even if we may not approve of one another. I know that as an evangelical Christian, and as a conservative, there are tens of thousands of people in Hamilton County who do not approve of my worldview, and I am okay with that. But at the very least we can learn to live in peace with one another. Having clear boundaries of right and wrong would serve us all well.
When something happens that goes over the line, as was obvious from the video that is circulating, our elected officials should have the courage to immediately speak up, make the appropriate decisions, and take action.
Conservatives and the LGBTQ community can live at peace with one another in our community. There is no need to ramp up the rhetoric - and I say this to both sides. Let’s make our voices heard and let our leaders do what is best.
To our leaders, Tim Kelly, Emily O’Donnell, Celeste Murphy, Weston Wamp, Coty Wamp, and Austin Garrett, do your duty. Give this issue the attention it deserves and do what is right. Don’t bury it because it is an incendiary topic. The citizens deserve your attention and your leadership.
Chris Widener, Hamilton County Conservatives