Ron DeSantis’s war on queer people has already wrecked multiple Pride celebrations this year.
The group that organizes Pride festivals in Tampa, Florida, announced Thursday it will cancel one of its annual events in light of the newly signed law that effectively bans drag performances.
The law, which DeSantis signed Wednesday, prohibits government entities and employees from issuing permits to organizations that may hold “adult live performances” in the presence of minors. Anyone that does can be charged with a misdemeanor. The law is so vaguely worded, and the punishment so high, that at least one Pride Parade was canceled before the measure was even signed.
The new law would also ban businesses from allowing minors to attend an “adult live performance,” which is defined as a show performed in front of a live audience that “depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities … lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.” Any business that breaks this law will face a fine of up to $10,000 and could lose its license.
“It is with deep sorrow and sadness that the TAMPA PRIDE BOARD has had to CANCEL PRIDE ON THE RIVER this Fall. The law the governor signed into effect against LGBTQ+ Community yesterday is sickening,” Tampa Pride said on Facebook. Pride on the River is a festival that takes place every fall and features a boat parade, drag brunches, and kid-oriented activities such as balloon animals and face painting.
“We are all sick for our LGBTQ+ Community,” Tampa Pride said. “Put on your thinking caps Floridians..... We have to come together for our lives.”
Florida Republican lawmakers have made a point of aggressively targeting LGBTQ people since the start of the year. DeSantis signed a slew of anti-LGBTQ bills on Wednesday—the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia—including a measure that lets the state take trans children away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care. The effects of these cruel measures are already being seen, as some LGBTQ people clearly no longer feel safe expressing themselves in public.
“The laws recently signed by the autocratic [governor] are unclear and he wants to scare the LGBTQ+ Community,” Tampa Pride President Carrie West told The New Republic. He said the group still plans to have its annual Pride festival in March 2024 and will bring back Pride on the River next fall.
Florida is the second state to pass a law attacking drag performances, which have become a particular target for the right wing in recent years. In March, Tennessee became the first state to pass such a law, although the measure was blocked by a judge before it could go into effect on the grounds that it was overly broad and violated free speech rights.