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Drag queens march in Tallahassee to protest recent legislation

A controversial bill on Gov. Ron DeSantis' desk would ban children from adult performances, which critics say impacts drag shows.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla — Following the movement of many bills in the Florida Legislature and policies that opponents say target the LGBTQ+ community, drag queens and their allies held a march in Tallahassee.

Once the march concluded, many drag queens, politicians and supporters in protest delivered remarks and emphasized that they would continue to protest the anti-LGBTQ legislation.

"This is the start of something beautiful," Miami drag queen Tiffany Arieagus said. "We're going to change hearts and minds. We're going to hold candidates and politicians to the task."

The protest comes a month after the Board of Medicine prohibited puberty blockers and hormone therapy for patients younger than 18, citing protecting children from irreversible harm. And on Tuesday amid the protest, a key Senate committee approved a scaled-back proposal targeted at requiring transgender men and women to use restrooms that align with their sex at birth. 

The House passed a bill, HB 1521, last week that would require people to use the public bathroom of their sex at birth — legislation that limits which bathroom transgender people can use.

The Florida House also sent Gov. Ron DeSantis a bill, SB 1438, last week that bans children from adult performances. Republican legislators said it's aimed at protecting children but critics argue the proposal targets the LGBTQ+ community.

While the bill does not specifically mention drag shows, the bill defines "adult live performances" as "any show, exhibition, or other presentation that is performed in front of a live audience and in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, specific sexual activities, ... lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts."

"We're protesting the Florida Legislature's attack on freedom of expression and the entire LGBTQ community," Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, said. "The recently passed Senate Bill 1438, which now has gone through and gone through the House, and it's on the governor's desk to sign."

She continued, "I've already seen consequences of this bill in Saint Lucie County, which is in Port Saint Lucie cancel their pride celebration out of fear."

The Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast posted Wednesday on Facebook that the decision to change last Saturday's Pridefest events was made after multiple conversations with Port St. Lucie officials. 

“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,” the post said.

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