How new Florida law could impact LGBTQ+ pride parades
ORLANDO, Fla. - Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign a bill that would block minors from attending certain drag shows.
A pride parade scheduled for this weekend on the Treasure Coast has already been nixed. So what does this mean for the rest of the state?
Orlando Come Out With Pride is reacting to the threat against drag performances with a promise: "This year’s pride celebration will even be bigger and better than years past."
That’s what Tatiana Quiroga, Executive Director of Orlando Come Out with Pride told FOX 35 News.
Orlando’s Pride Festival is the largest single-day event in all of Central Florida. It brought in over 200,000 people last year, with an economic impact estimated at around $25 million.
"For some small businesses and restaurants and nightclubs, that is their best day of the year!" said Quiroga.
But after Governor Ron DeSantis signs SB 1438 – the Protection of Children Act – Quiroga says the festival and parade are going to have to change.
"We had so much progress in the community, but now we find ourselves in a different place. Now we find ourselves almost going back to the root of the LGBTQ+ movement," said Quiroga.
SB 1438 says children cannot be allowed into "adult live performances" if they are "without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for the age of the child present."
The bill says that would be "an immediate serious danger to the public health, safety, or welfare."
- Florida Parental Rights law expanding through 12th grade
- 'Drag & Donuts' event at Florida school canceled after state questions appropriateness
- Drag queen pageant switches venues after concerns about compliance with Florida laws
Florida State Representative Randy Fine, who serves District 33 in southern Brevard County, says SB 1438 does not specifically target parades.
"You can have a parade. But if the parade is going to have activities of an adult nature, kids have to be kept away," said Rep. Fine.
Violators could have their business licenses pulled, plus get hit with a $10,000 fine.
It kicks into effect the moment Governor DeSantis puts pen to paper.
"If you run a parade through downtown, it should be appropriate for children that might be in the audience," said Rep. Fine. "I don’t understand why this is such a hard concept for people to understand."
"Drag is part of our culture," said Quiroga. "It really has been the backbone of the LGBTQ+ community."
The Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast had to cancel its parade planned for this weekend in Port St. Lucie. The rest of its festival is now restricted to adults 21 and older who will have to prove their age to security.
The Alliance said in a statement, "We are obviously upset and dishearten[ed] that it has come to this… We are working with the city to assure our safety as well as produce a positive event."
Rep. Fine says he went to a drag show as part of a college event while at Harvard, but that he didn’t enjoy it and wouldn’t go again. He noted that he doesn’t go to strip clubs either, but doesn’t think adults should be restricted from strip clubs nor drag performances.
"I think the big question is not why we want to stop adult live performances for children. I think the real question is why do adult entertainers so desperately want to perform for children," said Rep. Fine. "That should bother people."
Quiroga says Orlando Come Out with Pride has always been and will continue to be a family-friendly celebration.
"Despite the fact that this does feel like we’re walking backwards and some of the progress we have made is being taken away, I am 100% confident that we are going to march forward."
Orlando’s Pride Fest organizers have also been talking with the Police Chief about their parade coming up October 21.
"He assured us that our safety is top priority to make sure that all our guests are safe. We’ve obviously seen an increase in threats to LGBTQ+ nationally and Pride celebrations," said Quiroga. "People need this space. People are going to need to gather and see how many of us are there and see our allies and see the companies and businesses that support us."
Orlando Come Out with Pride also has a 21+ Pride Prom at the Orlando Science Center Friday.