Organizers of Treasure Coast PrideFest canceled their parade as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is likely to sign the “drag show ban” bill tonight. The event was to happen in Port St. Lucie, Fla. They also announced that their Pride Festival will be limited to those over the age of 21.
On Wednesday, the Florida House passed the bill to DeSantis for approval. If it becomes law, the state could withdraw the food and beverage licenses of establishments that allow minors to attend adult shows. In the past, the DeSantis administration has taken action to cancel liquor licenses of businesses that hosted drag shows, claiming that inappropriate acts were performed in front of underage spectators.
Further, the bill bans any governmental entity from issuing a permit or authorizing a person to conduct a drag show in public. The person who issues a permit that allows drag to be performed in public commits a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine.
Opponents say the bill is dangerously broad and censors the LGBTQ+ community.
“As all of you know, the political climate that we are currently in has us all very concerned for our community. After multiple meetings with city officials, it is with a heavy heart that Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast has to announce that this weekend’s Pridefest will now be a 21 and older event,” organizers said in a statement. “The city has decided that with the likelihood that the Governor will sign the latest bill into effect this evening, that we will need to be on the side of caution and has required us to make this necessary change. We are obviously upset and disheartened that it has come to this. We also regret to announce that we will have to cancel our plans to bring back our beloved parade.”
“We hope that everyone understands that this is definitely not what we wanted at all and are working with the city to assure our safety as well as produce a positive event. We have held off as long as we could in making this announcement as we were hoping it would not have to be made,” the statement continued. “We hope that everyone still supports our community and attends this event! We will be making an announcement in the near future about a family-friendly Party in the Park where our youth can celebrate who they are as well in conjunction with the Sanctuary of the Treasure Coast.”
A Pride organizer in West Palm Beach, Fla., an hour south of Port St. Lucie, supported the decision of the organizers, but blasted the city for “pre-complying to laws that are unconstitutional.
“As a fellow Pride organizer, we should support all decisions made to ensure the safety and security of our community-ALWAYS. What works for one area, does not necessarily work for another,” Compass’ executive director Julie Seaver wrote on Facebook. “That being said, I would caution Port St Lucie Civic Center and the Port St Lucie City Commission to not move forward in pre-complying to laws that are unconstitutional and not yet laws. It gives the state way too much power and shows no autonomy over our own city governments that represent the populations they serve. Do not let this fascist state government scare you into pre-compliance with propaganda. Enforce home rule, because they are coming for us today, but will surely not stop and come for you tomorrow. Be an upstanding Commission, not a bystanding Commission.”