Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
- A Florida drag queen compared legislation targeting LGBTQ issues backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to Nazis.
- Other drag queens and local politicians called the administration’s efforts “fascism.”
- The state recently moved to revoke the liquor license of a hotel that hosted a drag show.
Florida drag queens compared recent moves by state Republican lawmakers targeting their performances — including Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration’s efforts to revoke the liquor license of a hotel that hosted a drag show — to Nazis in the 1930s.
“It’s fascism, it’s complete and total, unregulated, fascism. and they’re just doing whatever they want and it’s so dangerous and so scary,” drag performer Mr Ms Adrien — who asked to go by their stage name — told Insider.
DeSantis’ administration moved to pull the Hyatt Regency Miami’s liquor license after one of its partner facilities hosted a drag queen Christmas show where some children were in attendance.
In a previous statement to Insider, DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin told Insider that the governor “stands up for the innocence of children in the classroom and throughout Florida.”
But advocates like Equality Florida say the incident is an example of the DeSantis administration “selectively weaponizing state agencies” to target drag performers and venues that are not harmful for children.
And Chris Caputo, a city commissioner in Wilton Manors, Florida who has spoken in support of LGBTQ issues, said the current situation reminds him of “Nazi Germany.”
“This governor and the current Republican administration are succeeding by marginalizing groups and tearing them off.”
Florida doesn’t feel like home, one drag queen said
Adrien, who was born and raised in South Florida, is now an Orlando-based drag queen and said recent anti-LGBTQ political shifts make the state feel like it’s no longer home.
Specifically, Adrien said ongoing narratives about drag shows and minors, like the complaint against the Hyatt Regency Miami on Tuesday, are “trying to paint a picture that just isn’t real … It’s a fake narrative.”
They also cited recent and proposed legislation — including an education bill dubbed by critics as “Don’t Say Gay” that limits how topics like gender are discussed in classrooms — as examples of what they called dangerous power grabs.
“It’s exactly what we were taught about in schools about how the Nazis rose to power,” Adrien said. “Textbook, bullet point for bullet point.”
DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the criticism.
A drag photoshoot of Mr Ms Adrien.
Mr Ms Adrien
Adrien said that while they’ve faced hate and harassment before, there are newer concerns about people attending drag shows undercover to take pictures and videos that, out of context or falsely edited, could be used against queens.
The environment in the state is increasingly hostile, they said.
‘Those safe spaces will go away’
Jason DeShazo is president of Rose Dynasty Foundation Inc. and performs as drag queen Momma Ashley Rose.
Rose Dynasty Foundation is a non-profit “whose mission is to provide a safe and family-friendly atmosphere for all people no matter their gender, race, sexual orientation, and/or religion,” according to the website.
Their drag brunches, as documented by NBC News, have welcomed children and families.
But after DeSantis’ move to revoke liquor licenses at the Hyatt Regency and two other locations, drag performers like DeShazo’s group and Adrien could face difficulty finding work.
DeShazo called the efforts “a witch hunt” and fears the legislation and efforts to limit drag could prevent LGBTQ kids from finding communities to support them.
“This could very well change the way our whole organization is ran, if we can even function as an organization,” DeShazo said. “Those safe spaces will go away.”
Rose Dynasty Foundation Inc. holding performance art drag event.
Amy Drefke/Jason DeShazo
According to both DeShazo and Adrien, the economic effects of Florida’s rhetoric is already being felt: venues are concerned about their performances’ content, shows have been canceled, and queens have dropped out of events out because of fears of public backlash.
Adrien said it’s hitting drag queen’s wallets.
“They want us to be broke and they want everyone to be afraid of us,” they said.
A huge multi-colored flag flies over Ocean Drive as people participate in the Pride Parade, during the Miami Beach Pride Festival, in Lummus Park, South Beach, Florida on September 19, 2021.
GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images
Despite concerns, advocates are still protesting.
Caputo is currently helping organize “March in Heels,” a “protest to address Florida HB 1011 and other anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in Florida,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
HB 1011 would restrict what types of flags government buildings can fly, preventing the display of LGBTQ+ flags, pride flags, and other flags not specified in the bill.
And both drag queens say they’ll still perform. DeShazo said he made a promise to families and children that he would fight against legislation and restrictions. Adrien said they do drag out of love and won’t give up on it.
“I don’t think it’s in my nature to give up,” they said. “Because giving up, to me, would be rolling over dead.”