Florida officers have moved to bar youngsters from attending all performances of “A Drag Queen Christmas,” including to a rising nationwide backlash in opposition to the “all-ages” touring present’s sexualized content material.
In a cease-and-desist letter shared with The Washington Occasions, Florida Secretary of Enterprise and Skilled Regulation Melanie S. Griffin threatened to revoke Ruth Eckerd Corridor’s liquor license if anybody below 18 attended a Thursday evening efficiency in Clearwater.
“Sexually express drag present performances represent public nuisances, lewd exercise, and disorderly conduct when minors are in attendance,” Ms. Griffin wrote, citing state ordinances.
Viral social media movies have sparked a rising pushback this month in opposition to the annual manufacturing, which is touring 18 states with performers from the truth tv present “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” The efficiency recordings depict nude prosthetic physique components, simulated intercourse acts and a personality named “Screwdolph the Purple Nippled Reindeer.”
Ms. Griffin mentioned the performances have been “marketed to and attended by minors, together with younger youngsters.”
“If minors are allowed to attend this drag present, the Division will take any and all actions accessible to make sure that you don’t pose a menace to minors sooner or later,” she wrote in her letter.
Reached for remark by phone on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Ruth Eckerd pledged to heed the warning.
“The one factor I can let you know is our present is for folks 18 years and older, interval, and we’re checking IDs,” mentioned Katie Pedretty, Ruth Eckerd public relations director.
Protests in opposition to “A Drag Queen Christmas” began sweeping the nation final week in response to viral movies of a latest present in Austin, Texas.
Unbiased journalist Tayler Hansen recorded the Austin present and shared video highlights on Twitter.
Because the protests unfold, a live performance venue within the suburbs of St. Louis barred youngsters from attending one other efficiency final Wednesday evening.
The Manufacturing unit in Chesterfield introduced hours earlier than the present that no ticket holders below 18 can be allowed to attend. Mayor Bob Nation promised to refund the cash of any youngsters who purchased tickets.
The Clearwater efficiency on Thursday evening marks the third present this week in Florida.
On Monday evening in Fort Lauderdale, the Broward Middle for the Performing Arts allowed youngsters to attend a day-after-Christmas present with parental accompaniment.
The workplace of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis mentioned it was investigating the manufacturing after receiving complaints that the Fort Lauderdale efficiency uncovered youngsters to “sexualized acts.”
On Wednesday evening, a whole bunch of protesters and counter-protesters gathered exterior of a theater in Orlando to protest one other efficiency.
Bryan Griffin, a spokesman for Mr. DeSantis, mentioned he couldn’t verify whether or not babies attended these performances.
“These particular questions can be nicely answered by good investigative journalism,” Mr. Griffin mentioned in an e-mail Thursday. “The division will full its investigation and act accordingly. Keep tuned.”
He mentioned the Florida Division of Enterprise and Skilled Regulation additionally despatched a cease-and-desist letter to The Plaza Stay, which hosted the Orlando present.
The Broward Middle for the Performing Arts defended admitting youngsters with parental supervision to Monday’s present, noting it added an grownup content material advisory to its web site.
“To make sure patrons had been conscious of the grownup themes and content material within the present, this info was on the web site and ticket buy web page,” the Middle mentioned in a press release emailed to The Occasions. “All ticket consumers had been additionally knowledgeable instantly by means of a ‘Know Earlier than You Go’ e-mail, a buyer communication that’s despatched out upfront of most reveals. As of at present, now we have not been contacted by state officers concerning an investigation.”
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, town’s first brazenly homosexual mayor, dismissed the investigation as a political stunt.
“It’s leisure — and that’s the way it must be seen,” Mr. Trantalis instructed the South Florida Solar-Sentinel. “I’m instructed the occasion organizers had indicators posted in any respect the entryways saying it was an grownup present for 18 years and older except they had been with a mum or dad. Now you may’t deny mother and father from bringing a toddler in there.”
However grownup content material warnings are new for a manufacturing that lengthy marketed itself as household pleasant, mentioned Gregory T. Angelo, president of the conservative New Tolerance Marketing campaign.
“Going from ‘all-ages’ present to 18-plus is one helluva swing,” mentioned Mr. Angelo, who’s homosexual and a former head of the Log Cabin Republicans LGBTQ group. “The truth that the venue edited the disclaimer is the inform. Administration clearly knew the present wasn’t acceptable for ‘all ages.’”
Florida’s crackdown on “A Drag Queen Christmas” comes amid intensifying protests in opposition to “family-friendly” drag reveals, which critics say sexualize younger youngsters.
Drag occasions promoting themselves as “household pleasant” have sparked 141 protests in 47 states this 12 months, the Homosexual and Lesbian Alliance In opposition to Defamation (GLAAD) reported on Dec. 16.
Lawmakers in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee and Texas have filed or mentioned laws to ban drag reveals for youngsters in response to the protests.
Some religion leaders warned Thursday that the protests might give unintentional publicity to performances of “A Drag Queen Christmas.”
“In case you don’t like them, the very best factor to do is ignore them,” mentioned the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Catholic priest and senior analyst at Faith Information Service. “I believe it’s acceptable to deal with them like an R-rated film and let the mother and father resolve.”
However this analogy isn’t good, mentioned former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, a vp on the conservative Dr. James Dobson Household Institute.
“Not like all-ages drag reveals, R-rated films don’t fake or declare they’re ‘household pleasant,’” Mr. Bauer mentioned in a telephone interview. “Individuals instinctively react in opposition to ‘A Drag Queen Christmas’ and related reveals as a result of they’re instinctively past the pale.”