When I was in middle school, in the late 1990s, a group of friends and I competed in a school talent show. Our act? Dressing up as the Spice Girls and singing “Wannabe.”

I dressed up as Scary Spice. In a leopard-print onesie, tights and a wig, I danced along with my buddies, gleefully lip-synching “I really, really, really wanna zigazig ah!”I still don’t know what it means to “zigazig ah,” but I do know that the tradition of dressing up as the opposite sex, singing and dancing or acting has a long history and exists in myriad forms.

From Ancient Greece to Italian commedia theater in the fifteenth century, actors would dress up in exaggerated versions of stock characters such as noblemen or clergy. When authoritarian figures held nearly absolute power over the lives of peasants, these performances were meant to entertain, but also to challenge social and class norms that today wouldn’t be controversial at all.

Drag was, in part, initially formed to subvert rigid gender norms, similar to how actors in the distant past dressed up to subvert rigid class norms. All of these things change over time, which is how you end up with a bunch of 13-year-olds dressed up as the Spice Girls in a suburban Indiana middle school without a trace of controversy and a lot of laughs and cheering.

There’s no question that Juneau Drag performers sometimes use the bur-lesque style with overtly sexual performances in bars and private venues. There’s also no question they have performed in public in front of young people doing celebrity impersonations and acts that are not sexual in nature.

Gigi Monroe, the stage name of the leader of Juneau Drag, told me one of his favorite acts is to impersonate Liza Minnelli. “Yes, I’m in drag,” he told me. “I am a man and I am wearing women’s costumes and hair and makeup and all that. I’m using the form of drag to impersonate a celebrity I really admire and who is loved by many people. I try to recreate her live performances in my act. My intention is for the tribute to Liza Minnelli to be the focus of what people take away and not that it was a guy dressed up in a woman’s costume and lip syncing and dancing around.”

Others dress up as science fiction characters or fantasy creatures. Monroe told me there needs to be some level of trust in the performers, that our Juneau neighbors know what is and isn’t appropriate for their audiences.

I spoke with one Haines resident who was initially opposed to the event. He said after viewing one of their performances online, he changed his mind. It was pretty mild, he said, even in a private venue for an adult show. He likely won’t be going to the event, but he’s not going to protest it anymore.

Let’s not conflate the national culture war that’s raging right now with Juneau Drag, members of which have been performing without controversy in a public setting. If drag’s not your thing, don’t go. You have a choice to not attend the fair or go elsewhere on the grounds for an hour.

Another lyric from the Spice Girls song I lip-synced and danced to: “Now don’t go wasting my precious time, get your act together we could be just fine.”

Haines will be just fine. It’s disappointing that so many people have wasted time and energy on this issue. Where is the public input and energy on local issues that will affect people’s lives for years to come: the potential sale of the lot on Third Avenue and Main Street, budget expenditures, stalled efforts to exempt food from sales tax, how to develop additional recreational opportunities in Haines? Those are the issues a Facebook poll could track or that should motivate letters and engagement from such a large segment of the public.