Breaking News
More () »

'Show must go on': Pinellas Park holds Pride festival days after new laws take effect

Organizers closed off drag performances to adults only after a new law took effect restricting access to "adult live performances."

PINELLAS PARK, Fla. — Pinellas Park held its third annual "Pride @ the Village" festival on Saturday just days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed new bills into law criticized by LGBTQ+ communities.

A new law effective immediately bars children from attending "adult live performances," however critics argue it targets drag queens and the language could impact Pride. 

"The show goes on," John Gascot, who started Pinellas Park Pride, said.

The day's festivities included vendors, live music, food and viewing at its local art studios.

Gascot said while performances by drag artists had to be restricted to adults only, he said he's hopeful LGBTQ+ communities will prevail from the new legislation.

"We're fighters and we're just taking care of each other right now," Gascot said. "We're not going to suddenly go away just because some people aren't comfortable with who we are."

Families attending the event like Kristin Sakora said she's disappointed her kids won't be able to watch drag performances.

"Drag is not a crime," Sakora said. "It is art. It is culture. It is performance and it's beautiful."

Lawmakers in support of the law argue the new law is aimed at keeping kids away from sexually explicit or lewd performances. However, critics said they see it as an attack on drag entertainers.

“It’s kind of sad that we even have some of these discussions,” DeSantis said during the signing of the bills.

DeSantis signed the bills Wednesday at Cambridge Christian School in Tampa, declaring "let kids be kids."  

"They're hypocritical at best with some of the content that children are exposed to on a daily basis," Daphne Ferraro, a drag performer based in St. Petersburg, said. "It's just misguided."

This week, Tampa Pride organizers canceled its annual "Pride On The River" event held every September. Port St. Lucie announced it's canceling its own Pride parade. 

It wasn't possible to have a closed-off space for performances around the Riverwalk, said Carrie West, Tampa Pride President.

While St. Pete Pride, the largest in Florida, is still on for June, organizers said they are in communication with city officials to ensure they are in compliance with new legislation.

Meanwhile, Tampa Pride, held in March, is still going on as planned. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out