Stephen Colbert eviscerates Republican governor for cruel attack on LGBTQ+ people and drag queens

Stephen Colbert (L) and Republican governor Lee (R). (Stephen Colbert/YouTube/Getty)

Comedian Stephen Colbert has mocked Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Lee, who is set to sign an anti-drag bill into law.

The new bill would make Tennessee the first US state to not only ban drag in public, but also pose a risk to LGBTQ+ rights across the US. The bill already threatens gender-affirming care for trans youth.

After passing the state senate, the bill is now heading for anti-drag governor Lee’s desk for signing. But his stance has been called into question after a photo of him in drag, while at high school, resurfaced.

In the leaked photo, from 1977, he is seen in a wig, a wearing a cheerleader’s outfit and a pearl necklace.

Colbert, along with others, called out the hypocrisy during a segment of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: “Admittedly those are some great gams [legs], but I’m sorry, those pearls?

An image of what appears to be Bill Lee cross-dressing.
Bill Lee has been accused of hypocrisy for signing the anti-drag bill. (Franklin High School)

“Governor, remember what Coco Chanel famously said about accessories: ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror’, and stop trying to score political points with your base at the expense of real human beings, you d**k.”

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The comments brought raucous applause from the audience.

Following the re-emergence of the yearbook image, the governor’s office told NBC News that it was part of a “light-hearted school tradition”. Lee later added that it was “ridiculous… [to conflate] something like that to sexualised entertainment in front of children, which is a very serious subject”. Neither have explicitly confirmed if it is him in the photo.

But former The Daily Show host Colbert still had more to say, specifically criticising the notion of “sexualised entertainment”.

He added: “[It’s] in the eye of the beholder, how are you gonna control that?” It’s really important that none of their elementary school teachers wear open-toed sandals that have a really long middle toe. Almost like a finger, real graceful, high art.”

Colbert also shamed the decision to attack gender-affirming healthcare, saying: “Come on, transgender or not, I don’t care who you are, all teens struggle with figuring out relationships with their bodies.”

He joins a chorus of voices warning about the dangerous implications of the legislation coming into force.

Human Rights Campaign legal director, Sarah Warbelow, said: “Rather than focus on actual policy issues facing Tennesseans, politicians would rather spend their time and effort misconstruing age-appropriate performances at a library.”

Drag queens have also shared their dismay, with Jinkx Monsoon writing on Instagram: “We are fighting an uphill battle as a direct result of the progress we have made – and the insidious efforts of the conservative right.”