Local businesses affected by recent drag show ban (includes video story)

The start of June marks the beginning of pride month. Yet, Florida this year may seem less colorful than all previous years.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1438 a few weeks ago, giving state agencies the power to shut down “adult live performances.” Many businesses are afraid of steep fines, revoked licensing and being prosecuted for a first-degree misdemeanor for knowingly admitting a child.

“For example, drag bingo will be taking place inside of our civic center and it will be an event where we will be requiring IDs,” says Stephanie Bechara, communications and public affairs manager for the City of Kissimmee. “And we’re also asking folks to go ahead and pre-register online to participate.”

DeSantis’s new law affects many businesses that host drag shows.

“We have a street party with a stage with performers out front during Pride,” said John Paonessa, owner of Hamburger Mary’s in Fort Lauderdale, who is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit pending against the state. “We usually get three or four thousand people in the street watching. That’s something we can’t do [now because of the new law].”

Cindy Claros is a senior majoring in Digital Media/Broadcasting Journalism. After graduation, she hopes to work in the entertainment industry and for shows such as "Good Morning America" and "The Real" or start her podcast.