Tampa Bay LGBTQ activists prepare for fight over drag as bans spread
GOP attempts to restrict drag shows could reignite in Florida as other states move to ban the performances.
Driving the news: Tennessee is likely to become the first state to restrict drag performances this year, with a bill expected to pass the state Legislature this week. The legislation — which would criminalize "adult cabaret" performances, like drag shows, on public property — recently advanced to the House.
Why it matters: Florida's Legislature convenes next month, and local LGBTQ activists expect state lawmakers to revisit the issue after a legislator's attempt to restrict drag flopped last year.
Between the lines: Regulating drag seems to be top of mind for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who earlier this month sent state agencies after a "Drag Queen Christmas" performance in Orlando, where all ages were welcome.
- That's after he sought to revoke a Miami bar's liquor license for hosting a drag performance in July that kids attended.
Flashback: Last year, then-state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Howey-in-the-Hills) said he planned to propose legislation to make bringing a child to a drag show a felony with the potential to terminate parental rights.
- The move appeared to be prompted by DeSantis suggesting that child protective services should investigate parents who take their children to drag shows.
Yes, but: Sabatini never put forward a bill. He lost his bid for Congress last year and is now head of the Lake County GOP.
What they're saying: St. Petersburg-based LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida is preparing to battle "what we know will be an onslaught of anti-LGBTQ legislation," this year, including attacks on drag, spokesperson Brandon Wolf told Axios.
- "In his desperation to build a presidential campaign on the backs of LGBTQ people, DeSantis has already taken aim at small businesses that host drag performances," Wolf said. "It should come as no surprise that he may cajole the Legislature into carrying out his punishment of those small businesses, and the stripping away of parents' rights to choose what entertainment their families enjoy, during session.”
- Representatives for DeSantis did not respond to Axios' request for comment.
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