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Sat, Mar 25 at 12:00pm

Nashville’s Great Pretenders: A Seminar on the History of Drag Performance in Music City

Nashville’s Great Pretenders: A Seminar on the History of Drag Performance in Music City

General Admission: $15 ($12 Belcourt members)


Presented by Sarah Calise, public historian, librarian and founder/director of Nashville Queer History

Female impersonation, or drag, has been a performance art for centuries, and at least since the mid-1800s, a popular ticket in the United States. Drag appeared in Nashville in the early 1900s as part of minstrel shows, theatrical productions and carnivals that toured the country.

In the last decade, drag shows have reached the height of commercialization and can be found in a multitude of venues beyond LGBTQ spaces, including productions at brunches and parties, on tour buses, and as part of public library programs. Even amidst its current mainstream appeal, drag’s core purposes of entertainment and gender play remain the same as it was centuries ago. This seminar will provide a presentation on the history of female impersonation in the United States and discuss some of the important places and people in Nashville’s drag history.

This seminar is in conjunction with the Belcourt’s Weekend Classics screening of SOME LIKE IT HOT (Sat, Mar 25, 1:00pm). Movie tickets sold separately.

About the speaker:
Sarah Calise (she/they) is trained in public history, archival management and digital librarianship. She holds a M.A. in Public History from Middle Tennessee State University (2016), and a M.S. in Information Science from University of Tennessee–Knoxville (2022). In September 2021, she founded Nashville Queer History, an organization dedicated to researching, preserving and sharing the LGBTQ history of Middle Tennessee in hopes of inspiring local activism, education and inclusion. During the day, she works as a Metadata Librarian at Vanderbilt University.