Across South Florida, many cities have held pride parades with a common theme of anger over the happenings in Tallahassee.
Most recently in the state capital, there was passage of the “drag ban” bill, which has drawn much criticism and several lawsuits. It has been mentioned repeatedly by Gov. Ropn DeSantis, who yesterday announced his candidacy for president.
“We want to have our kids be kids and we want them to have a normal environment,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a June 2022 press conference, showcasing his long-standing belief in protecting children when it comes to LGBTQ+ issues.
Though this work is being done in Tallahassee, drag artists here in Miami continue to work despite fear for their jobs and hobbies.
Tiffany Gonzalez is one of many drag queens in Miami who work the drag circuit from RHouse in Wynwood to the Palace in South Beach. It’s more than just a hobby to her, it is how she pays the bills.
“It’s hard [doing this job] because people don’t want to accept, or support, something that they view negatively” said Gonzalez.
Together with her brother Oscar, Tiffany came to the United States from Colombia back in 2013 to look for a better life as a trans woman and drag performer. But with the recent legislation, she and her brother may have to look for new jobs to support their family.
Gonzalez isn’t the only one facing hardships in light of this legislation. Daniel Cruz is a chemistry professor at the University of South Florida, and his husband, Aaron Perry Cruz, is also a drag queen.
Daniel spoke on how his husband is not only concerned about his hobby, but also what these legislations mean for LGBTQ+ children, especially in light of the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill.
“My husband started doing drag when the ‘don’t say gay’ bill started gaining traction. It made an impact on him because as a kid, he did not have a good time in school to put it lightly,” said Cruz discussing his husband’s introduction into drag. “He was constantly bullied, and even physically threatened and hurt. Just for being different, just for being feminine.”
Cruz mentioned how anything that was deemed “feminine” made his husband a target — from ballet classes to any form of artistic expression. This would cause Aaron to let go of his artistic passions, but he was inspired by drag.
“Other people decided he was gay, just from the way he acted and carried and carried himself,” said Cruz continuing the story. “So when the ‘don’t say gay’ bill was introduced, it impacted him a lot because he felt like young children were not going to have the opportunity to learn about gay issues and the existence of gay people and how there is nothing wrong with that.”
Across the country more and more anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is being proposed. There are currently 452 pieces of legislation that revolve around the issue. The ones in Florida center around protecting children from certain LGBTQ+ topics.
The specific legislation coming from Florida seeking to prevent children from attending drag shows is SB 1438.
While it isn’t specific to drag events, rather stating any “adult live performances” that would include any “lewd conduct,” it does come following many threats to drag venues across the state to revoke their liquor licenses. The most recent threat was the Hyatt Regency in Miami after they hosted a “Drag Queen Christmas” in December.
While many Americans may be against these proposed legislations, some are extremely in favor of the work Gov DeSantis is doing. Ian Lares-Chacin is the president of College Republicans at Florida International University and strongly believes in what’s being done.
“I don’t think its appropriate at all for kids of any age to be in attendance at these types of shows,” said Lares-Chacin. “There is a limit to everything and exposing kids to performances of that nature is the limit.”
Despite this back and forth, people can only look ahead. While some seek to support DeSantis as he continues to work on this legislation, others like the Cruz family seek to make their voice heard. They went to the capital on March 13 to speak on the floor of the Florida Legislature.
“We’re going to Tallahassee and I’m going to support but I’m not gonna speak because the Queen’s are the ones who should speak,” Cruz said. “They’re gonna be opening the floor Monday and Tuesday for comments. And we need to go there and represent ourselves and say our piece.”
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