Drag queens, allies turn out in hundreds to march to Florida Capitol and protest legislation

The performers and allies say SB 1438 is meant to suppress drag performances
Hundreds gather to protest bill aimed at drag shows
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 10:35 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 4:29 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Hundreds of drag queens and allies from across the state gathered in the Capital City Tuesday to protest legislation they say aims to silence drag performances.

The bill, SB 1438, passed in the Florida House last week and now awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis’s signature to become law. It bans children from attending “adult live performances” including nudity or lewd conduct. It does not specifically mention drag shows, but opponents say the legislation is vaguely worded and intended to silence drag performances.

Protesters say drag is more than just a show— it’s a source of community for many and a livelihood for some.

Several Democratic lawmakers joined protesters on the steps of the old Capitol, speaking out about what they call legislative attacks on the LGBTQ community.

“We embrace all people and see diversity as a strength, not a weakness,” House Democrat Anna Eskamani said.

Republicans say the legislation, named “Protection of Children,” is about keeping kids safe.

“I believe that when children are exposed to certain things, just like adults, we can’t unsee, we can’t unhear and we can’t un-experience the stuff that goes into our minds,” Senate bill sponsor Clay Yarborough said.

After marching from Cascades Park to the Capitol, protesters went inside to the rotunda, where the room echoed with hundreds of chants as lawmakers debated on the House floor.

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