A bill passed this month by state legislature could allow the state to fine and revoke food and beverage licenses for any business that allows children to attend any “adult live performance” that “appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest,” including shows that use “prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.” Read: drag shows.
The “Protection of Children Act” states that any person or individual that “knowingly [admits] a child to an adult live performance,” could face a first-degree misdemeanor with up to one year of imprisonment and a hefty fine.
While the bill doesn’t specifically say “drag” anywhere, everyone knows what it means because the GOP will certainly not be targeting your local Hooters restaurant or belly dancer show.
The bill isn’t just limited to live productions either, it also targets cities and counties that issue permits for public performances that include the above, leading to at least one organization canceling a planned gay pride event in Port St. Lucie.
While we are still waiting to see if the governor will sign the bill, LGBTQ+ organizations across the state aren’t sitting idle. We spoke with Tatiana Quiroga, the executive director of Come Out With Pride (Facebook | Website), about what they think of the bill and what it could mean for their annual event, which attracted more than 200,000 people in 2022.
“Pride is going to happen. We’re hard at work planning for October 21st already, but we’re still not sure what sort of changes we’re looking at as a result of this bill. We’ve already spoken with Orlando Police about safety and we are confident that we can still prioritize the safety of our guests and keep the event in city limits at Lake Eola.
That being said, we want to keep this as a family-friendly event. We are proud of the fact that we are one of the only family-friendly pride events in the state and I’ve been bringing my child to every Pride event since he was born. We stand in solidarity with our local drag community and our trans siblings.”– TATIANA QUIROGA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COME OUT WITH PRIDE
When questioned about whether or not she thought drag would be allowed at the event, Quiroga seemed unsure.
“I obviously want to say, yes, drag will be allowed at the parade. But we’re still waiting to hear what the rules of the game are. This is a volunteer-led event that’s meant to be a gift for the Orlando community and we have had the privilege to operate Pride as a party for the past few years. But the roots of Pride have always been in protest and upheaval. It’s been a privilege to host that party all these years, but we’ll have to wait and see what the footprint of this bill will be, and how much we’re willing to have at stake. We’re going to be walking the line for the community but we have to wait and see how the bill is passed to even know what the line is before we can walk it.”– TATIANA QUIROGA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COME OUT WITH PRIDE
Quiroga reiterated that the City of Orlando has been a staunch supporter and ally for years and that they were working together to find their next steps.
Come Out With Pride is currently ramping up for its Pride Prom event on April 28 at the Orlando Science Center, an adults-only party for people who may not have been able to attend their high school prom, featuring music by DJ Scott Roberts, live entertainment, photo ops, and more, hosted by RuPaul alum Kerri Colby.
“We just really need a moment to be with our community, and surround ourselves with some queer joy in the face of this legislation.”– TATIANA QUIROGA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COME OUT WITH PRIDE