Drag Race legends join ‘fight back’ against Ron DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ+ agenda: ‘Humbled and grateful’

Roxxxy Andrews and Detox attend the Florida protest at Capitol building.

RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Detox and Roxxxy Andrews joined hundreds of protesters who descended upon Florida’s capitol building on Tuesday (25 April) in opposition to the anti-LGBTQ+ bills being passed by Republican lawmakers.

The march was specifically in response to Senate Bill 1438 – also known as the Protection of Children Act – being passed last week.

The vaguely worded bill would ban children from attending “adult live performances”, which could extend to pantomime or even The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Critics fear the vague language of the legislation is intended so that drag shows can be targeted.

More than 300 protesters determined to protect drag and LGBTQ+ lives in Florida, donned red shirts with the words “the show must go on” emblazoned on them, and chanted: “Drag is not a crime.”

Darcel Stevens, a drag queen activist from Orlando, who organised the march with LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Florida, told ABC News: “Drag queens are not just entertainers, we’re valued contributors to society, small business owners, parents, teachers, nurses, first responders and much more. Floridians know we pose no threat.

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“That’s why we’re united here, using our powerful collective voices to encourage political activism, register voters and resist policies that harm us and the brothers and sisters in our LGBTQIA+ community. We are not going anywhere, we will not be silent, we will rise up and we will fight back.”

Equality Florida told The Hill that the protest was intended to educate people on the “rich history of drag as a form of cultural artistic expression, suitable for all ages.”

The organisation warned Florida authorities that there will be unintended economic consequences and stressed that the legislation would have an impact on “local brunches, theatrical productions such as Shakespeare or the Mrs. Doubtfire musical”, while concerts featuring the likes of Madonna or Sam Smith “could all be cancelled by venues who fear elements of drag will be in violation of the law”.

Detox shared her joy and excitement at being at the march and tweeted to say she was “thrilled” to join the protest.

Detox added they were “humbled and grateful” to have been part of the protest.

A former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Carlos Guillermo Smith – the first openly gay Latino elected to the Florida legislature – spoke at the protest, and tweeted to his 50,000 followers: “Hundreds of drag queens and allies have marched on the capitol in Florida. They are fabulous. They are fierce and they are furious that the GOP super-majority has trampled their rights and freedoms.

“Now they’re fighting back! It’s time to #DragDeSantis!”

Smith posted a second video, highlighting protestors chanting: “Ron DeSantis [Florida’s Republican governor] has got to go!”

Equality Florida press secretary, Brandon Wolf, who survived the 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub, in which 49 people died, wrote that he loved “seeing the historic capitol steps become the site of a mass mobilisation of drag queens and allies”.

DeSantis has not yet signed SB 1438 into law but the impact of the bill has already been felt through Florida’s queer community, with an LGBTQ+ group cancelling its Pride parade in anticipation of the legislation.

If the bill is signed into law, business owners could be punished with up to a year in prison for allowing children to attend “adult live performances” or fined $5,000 (£4,000) for a first violation.

The governor has driven attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, and his Parental Rights in Education Act, known widely as Don’t Say Gay, was recently expanded.

The extension bans discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation at all grades in public schools.