- A Florida drag queen has compared Gov. Ron DeSantis-backed legislation targeting LGBTQ issues 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 have compared recent moves by state Republican lawmakers targeting their shows — including efforts by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration to revoke the liquor license of a hotel hosting a drag show — to Nazis in the 1930s.
“It is fascism, it is complete and total, uncontrolled, fascism. And they do whatever they want and it’s so dangerous and so scary,” drag performer Ms Adrien – who asked not to go by her stage name – told Insider.
DeSantis management moved to remove the Hyatt Regency Miami’s liquor license after one of its affiliates hosted a drag queen Christmas show attended by some children.
In an earlier statement to Insider, DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin told Insider that the governor “stands up for the innocence of children in the classroom and across Florida.”
But advocates like Equality Florida say the incident is an example of the DeSantis administration “selectively arming state agencies” to target drag performers and venues that are not harmful to children.
And Chris Caputo, a city commissioner in Wilton Manors, Fla., who has spoken out in favor of LGBTQ issues, said the current situation reminds him of “Nazi Germany.”
“This governor and the current Republican administration are getting their way by marginalizing groups and ripping them off.”
Florida doesn’t feel like home, a drag queen said
Adrien, who was born and raised in South Florida, is now an Orlando-based drag queen and said recent anti-LGBTQ policy changes make the state feel like she’s no longer home.
Specifically, Adrien said that ongoing narratives about the shows and minors, like the complaint filed against the Hyatt Regency Miami on Tuesday, “try to paint a picture that’s just not true … It’s a false narrative.”
They also cited recent and proposed legislation — including an education bill dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that restricts how topics like gender can be discussed in classrooms — as examples of what they called dangerous power grabs.
“It’s exactly what we were taught in schools about how the Nazis came to power,” Adrien said. “Manual, dot by dot.”
DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the review.
Adrien said that while they have faced hate and harassment in the past, there are newer concerns about people secretly attending drag shows to take photos and videos that, out of context or falsely edited, could be used against queens.
The environment in the state is becoming increasingly hostile, they said.
“These safe spaces are going away”
Jason DeShazo is president of the Rose Dynasty Foundation Inc. and stars as drag queen Momma Ashley Rose.
The Rose Dynasty Foundation is a non-profit organization “whose mission is to provide a safe and family atmosphere for all people regardless of 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 moved to revoke the liquor licenses at the Hyatt Regency and two other locations, drag performers like DeShazo’s troupe and Adrien could face difficulty finding work.
DeShazo called the efforts a “witch hunt” and fears that the legislation and efforts to limit attraction could prevent LGBTQ children from finding communities to support them.
“This could very well change the way our entire organization operates, if we can even operate as an organization,” DeShazo said. “These safe spaces are going away.”
According to DeShazo and Adrien, the financial impact of Florida’s rhetoric is already being felt: venues are concerned about the content of their shows, shows have been canceled and queens have left events due to fears of public backlash.
Adrien said hitting the drag queen’s purses.
“They want us to be broken and they want everyone to fear us,” they said.
Despite the concerns, advocates are still protesting.
Caputo is currently helping organize the “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 limit the types of flags government buildings can fly, preventing the display of LGBTQ+ flags, pride flags and other flags not specified in the bill.
Both drag queens say they will continue to perform. DeShazo said he made a promise to families and children that he would fight against the legislation and restrictions. Adrien said they are crawling with love and won’t give up.
“I don’t think it’s in my nature to give up,” they said. “Because giving up, to me, would be dead.”