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Pittsburgh poised to lift restrictions on drag shows

Bob Bauder
| Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 4:33 p.m.
The set for a show by “Rupaul’s Drag Race” winner Jinkx Monsoon at 6119 Club in East Liberty.
The set for a show by “Rupaul’s Drag Race” winner Jinkx Monsoon at 6119 Club in East Liberty.

Pittsburgh drag kings and queens are seeking a change in city zoning regulations that would permit them to perform in venues across the city.

Under current regulations such performances are defined as adult entertainment, which is restricted to areas zoned as urban/industrial or conditionally within the Golden Triangle. Drag show advocates during a public hearing Thursday appealed to City Council for an amendment that would remove drag shows from the adult entertainment category.

“Today drag is considered an art form, and you can find it everywhere from RuPaul's Drag Race on TV to performances at the South Side Works, Andy Warhol Museum, Mattress Factory, all over the Cultural District and in neighborhoods like North Side, Lawrenceville and Shadyside,” said Gary Van Horn, president of the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit LGBT advocacy group.

“We are proud to stand here today with our drag king and queen community in support of this zoning amendment,” Van Horn said.

Council members said they would support the change.

“I'm certain this will be a unanimous vote on council,” said President Bruce Kraus of the South Side, council's only openly gay member.

Six speakers lobbied council for the change, saying the zoning ordinance approved in the 1950s is outdated and prejudicial.

Councilman Corey O'Connor of Swisshelm Park agreed.

“I think it is amazing that something like this was an ordinance,” he said. “I think it shows that when we looked at codes or whenever it was put... people were not open-minded back then.”

Councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith of Westwood and Darlene Harris of Spring Hill said they would also support the amendment.

“I think this is the easiest piece of legislation we've had to vote on,” Harris said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter @bobbauder.

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