BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — Bristol Town Hall was packed Wednesday night as a resident asked the council to amend the definition of “adult entertainment.”
Robert Botelho filed a petition last month requesting the Bristol Town Council broaden the language of the definition to include, “the act of entertaining with or without music by dancing, or behaving in a manner consistent with mimicking sexual action or seduction with or without the physical contact of others with the intent to amuse, please, sexually stimulate or provide sexual gratification for viewing pleasures of legal adults within or outside of the establishment.”
This comes after Pivotal Brewing Company held its second-ever drag show last Saturday, according to co-founder Todd Nicholson.
Nicholson tells 12 News he and the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island (ACLU) are fighting the petition.
“If you look at our core principles as a brewery and a small business, it’s all about diversity and inclusion and supporting the LGBTQ+ community, of which we have many friends that frequent the brewery, and we are a supportive business in this community,” Nicholson said.
In a letter addressed to the Bristol Town Council, the ACLU said the petition is “inappropriately aimed at LGBTQ+ individuals.”
ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown wrote that the proposed language “is broad enough to have the Footloose-ian effect” and would in turn bring strict regulations to any kind of entertainment in Bristol.
“A – how do you enforce that? And B – does that mean that the town of Bristol would not allow dancing in public venues and public places? It seems rather absurd,” Nicholson added.
Botelho argues that he filed the petition long before the drag show took place this past weekend, and his request doesn’t specifically mention drag shows.
“The notion that this is barring any [transgender] sex show, this is not that,” he told councilors. “If you wanted such activity to take place, you could work with the town solicitor to define and permit that.”
Councilors who pushed back against Botelho believe the petition would not only ban drag shows, it could also restrict dancing and other forms of entertainment.
Hailey Corrigan attended Wednesday night’s meeting to show her support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“I think [there’s some] confusion,” Corrigan said. “It’s more fitting because [some people] might not understand where we’re coming from. We do a little shimmy, we do a little dance and it’s all in good fun. We really don’t mean any harm at all.”
The council opted to send the petition to the town solicitor for a written legal opinion, which will be presented at the next meeting.
From there, the councilors will decide how to move forward.