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The LGBTQ+ community has long celebrated self-expression with drag shows featuring performers in costume and makeup, impersonating men or women. Witness the popularity of the Emmy Award winner RuPaul’s Drag Race. But Republican lawmakers in Florida, Arizona, Texas and other states are trying to crack down, with proposals to ban underage drag shows.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has suggested he could order his state’s Department of Child Protective Services to investigate parents who take their children to such shows.
“We have laws against child endangerment,” DeSantis said at a press conference in Fort Meyers Beach last week, after a video emerged of kids frequenting a drag bar in Dallas. “They were putting money in the underwear, and it’s totally inappropriate,” he said. “It’s not something kids should be exposed to.”
Florida State Rep. Anthony Sabatini goes even further, proposing to end the parental rights of adultsand make it a crime if they take their kids to watch a drag show.
Bryan Slaton, a Republican state representative in Texas, said he would also be propose a bill banning drag shows where minors are present. “Evil adults are obsessed with sexualizing young children,” he complained in a statement.
In Arizona, Republicans also say they are alarmed. “If men want to dress as women, and if adults want to participate in these hyper-sexualized performances, they have the freedom to do so. It goes beyond the limits when children are subjected to these drag shows,” they wrote in a joint statementadding that they send a message of “complete and utter perversion” to children.
Arizona State Senator Vince Leach told NPR he’s been hearing more and more complaints from parents about drag shows attended by children, and he’s currently drafting legislation to do something about it. this subject.
“It’s a drag on society,” Leach said in a phone call this week. “These artists are, in my opinion, disgusting.” He says he’s disturbed by newspaper photos of kindergartners “stuffing bills into panties” during drag performances. “These are kids watching something they can never get out of their minds. We don’t allow kids to do stripteases, we don’t allow them to watch X-rated movies…so that kind of freaks me out. is alien why we let this continue.”
Across the country, the heat is on for drag performers, especially during Pride Month.
Last weekend, West Palm Beach “Pride on the Block” Event canceled its scheduled drag show after Canadian police reported that a 17-year-old made anti-LGBTQ comments online and threatened to shoot people at the event.
In California last weekend, a group of men believed to be part of the far-right Proud Boys disrupted a story time event at the San Lorenzo Library. Kyle Chu, whose drag name is Panda Dulce, was set to read to preschoolers and kindergarteners. Wearing shirts emblazoned with an AK-47, the men shouted homophobic and transphobic threats.
“The Proud Boys shouted ‘who brought the transexual?’ and started throwing insults at me, calling me a pedophile and a groomer,” Chu told Teen Vogue. “To be faced with bigots who are deeply misinformed about who you are and what you stand for is terrifying.”
A security guard quickly escorted the group away, and Chu continued to read to the children. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office has opened a hate crime investigation.
In response to comments from DeSantis, his gubernatorial rival, Democrat Nikki Fried announced that she supports drag shows. She told Florida Politics“If a parent wants to take their kids to a drag show, that’s up to the parents. And it’s entertainment. Kids don’t become gay because they went to a drag show.”
At a civil rights conference, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel reportedly described complaints about children being exposed to drag queens as “fake issues” that divide people. The Detroit News quoted her as saying that drag queens raise children when they have emotional problems. Nessel, the state’s first openly gay person elected to a statewide office, jokingly called for a drag queen for every school. “Drag queens make everything better,” she said. “Drag queens are fun.”
Andy Cohen, TV talk show host, tweeted, “I would take my kids to a drag show before taking them to a gun show.” And comedian, actor, singer and author Randy Rainbow posted this tweet: “I introduce a bill to protect drag queens from children.”