Drag Race stars Detox and Roxxxy Andrews were among the many drag performers and allies who demonstrated against Florida’s proposed restrictions on drag this week.
Hundreds protested peacefully at the state’s Capitol building in Tallahassee on 25 April after lawmakers passed the Protection of Children Act (Senate Bill 1348) last week.
Just like the bill that recently passed in Tennessee, its wording is vague and would see children banned from attending what is broadly referred to as “adult live performances”.
Such ambiguity has resulted in many fearing the law could be used as a way to target drag shows in Florida.
In response to this bill, as well as the many other anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation introduced in the state, more than 300 protestors wore red shirts with the phrase “the show must go on” branded on them.
“Drag is not a crime,” the packed out crowd chanted outside the aforementioned building.
Darcel Stevens, a drag queen from Orlando who organised the march alongside Equality Florida, told ABC News: “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.
“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 warned the government of the economic ramifications such restrictions could cause.
A spokesperson told The Hill the bill would impact everything from “local brunches, theatrical productions such as Shakespeare or the Mrs. Doubtfire musical” to concerts featuring the likes of Sam Smith and Madonna which incorporate drag into them.
Taking to Twitter after getting involved in the protest, Detox said she felt “so thrilled” to have been able to be there.
I am so thrilled I was able to attend & be part of the Drag March in Tallahassee today. As you all know, or should know, I’m from Orlando. Came out in Orlando at 15. Started doing drag at 16. Found myself & my family there. I could not NOT attend the march. I love this community!
— Detox… (@TheOnlyDetox) April 25, 2023
“As you all know, or should know, I’m from Orlando. Came out in Orlando at 15. Started doing drag at 16. Found myself & my family there. I could not NOT attend the march. I love this community!” they continued.
“#DragIsNotACrime! I am humbled & grateful to be here to support, not only my family & community here in Florida, but support my history & myself by being present for it. Thank you to everyone for showing up & showing OUT! I love you all!”
Carlos Guillermo Smith, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives who spoke to GAY TIMES about the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill last year, spoke at the demonstration.
“By being here today, you all have sent a message to your communities, to the state and to the entire world,” he said.
“Hundreds of drag queens and allies have marched on the Capitol city in Florida.
“They are fabulous, they are fierce and they are furious that the Republican supermajority in this building behind us and in these buildings behind us have attacked their rights and their freedoms and you are here to fight back, am I right about that?
“You’ve seen your rights and you’ve seen your freedoms trampled by the GOP supermajority and we think it is time to drag Ron DeSantis.”
Hundreds of drag queens and allies have marched on the capitol in Florida.
They are FABULOUS. They are FIERCE and they are FURIOUS that the GOP supermajority has trampled their rights and freedoms.
Now they're FIGHTING BACK!
— Carlos Guillermo Smith (@CarlosGSmith) April 26, 2023
In a video posted on Smith’s social media, protesters can be heard chanting “Ron DeSantis has got to go!” in reference to the state’s Republican governor, who has supported an array of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation during his tenure.
He has yet to sign the Protection of Children Act into law, though it is expected that he will do so when it arrives on his desk.
If it takes effect, business owners could face up to a year in prison for allowing children to attend “adult live performances” or be fined $5,000 (£4,000) for a first violation.