TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Protestors headed to the state Capitol Tuesday to speak against the Florida Legislature’s “continued attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community,” according to Equality Florida.
This comes less than a week after the Florida Legislature approved bills that would restrict bathroom access for trans people and give the state authority to revoke the food and beverage licenses of any business that allows children to attend adult performances.
Following the passing of this law, the Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast canceled its parade and restricted PrideFest events to those 21 and up.
However, LGBT activists argued that drag performances have cultural value stemming from Shakespeare and other theatrical positions. They said these bills would cause “local brunches, theatrical productions such as Shakespeare or the Mrs. Doubtfire musical, to major concerts featuring performers like Madonna or Sam Smith” to be canceled by venues who fear they will break the law.
“The current slate of anti-LGBTQIA+ laws being passed this session is cruel, unjust, full of hypocrisy, and runs counter to the very values Republicans claim to uphold,” said Darcel Stevens, a Drag Queen activist from Orlando and organizer of this effort. “Under the false pretense of wanting to protect children, lawmakers are content to retaliate by destroying parental freedom and businesses’ financial livelihoods — all while ignoring the real issues affecting Floridians like affordable housing, healthcare, and the soaring cost of living.”
“Drag Queens are not just entertainers, we’re valued contributors to society — small business owners, parents, teachers, nurses, first responders and much more. Floridians know we pose no threat,” Stevens added. “That’s why we’re united here using our powerful collective voices to encourage political activism, register voters, and resist policies that harm us and the brothers and sisters in our LGBTQIA+ community. We are not going anywhere, we will not be silent, we will rise up and we will fight back.”
Equality Florida said hundreds of drag queens and allies traveled to Tallahassee from across the state to protest against the bills. It was said to be the largest planned gathering of its kind in state history.