Florida’s government is failing student drag performers

I thought we were getting better at accepting the LGBTQ+ community, but that certainly isn’t the case.| Ana Mancebo, PantherNOW

Kailey Krantz | Staff Writer 

To anyone in the LGBTQ+ community at FIU who wants to freely express themselves via the art of drag, it’s difficult to live in a world where we have to be careful not to “offend” conservatives. 

One drag performer, Jason DeShazo, who goes by the stage name “Momma Ashley Rose” during his performances, has been trying to establish an LGBTQ+ youth center in Lakeland, FL, but has been receiving online death threats by conservatives and religious groups, as Neo-Nazis disrupted his shows by waving Nazi flags and Christian groups tried to shut them down and told him he’s going to hell.

I thought we were getting better at accepting the LGBTQ+ community, but that certainly isn’t the case.

It seems that conservatives are painting the community as if they’re ghosts and monsters trying to ‘scare and infect’ others with ‘the gay.’

Students who would want to pursue drag performance will need extra measures to make sure their audience members and fellow performers don’t get harmed, such as placing black tarp around the venue so they wouldn’t be seen from the outside or sending discreet posters and invites to their live shows. 

At this point, where do we draw the line? Tallahassee has already proved they were willing to continue this trend by proposing 19 bills that target trans and LGBTQ+ people in the 2024 Florida Legislative Session.

I, as well as other students, look up to drag performers for being able to freely express their gender and sexuality through performance. As an art form drag allows the performer to either downplay their persona’s gender or exaggerate it to create something entirely unique. 

Drag shows, like FIU Pride’s Intergalactic Drag Show, are important because they provide a venue for student drag performers and LGBTQ+ students to have a space where they get to revel in their queerness without the fear of being judged.

Even gender expression, a core aspect of drag, is being limited through Florida’s HB 1233, where all identification documents must now align with the gender given at birth.

Student drag performers are using this platform to fully express themselves on stage and taking that away silences their voices and freedom of expression. 

We are a part of a generation that seems the most accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, yet our concerns for these protections are going unanswered by Florida’s government. 

We cannot afford to let this slide. We need to hold our state representatives accountable for the damages their laws have on the LGBTQ+ community by voting against anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, organzing rallies, and spreading the word through physical and digital means.

We have to stand by our student drag performers, now more than ever, to make sure their voices are heard through following them on social media and keeping the conversation going.

These laws regarding the LGBTQ+ community and drag performers’ ability to freely express themselves are concerning and will be for the foreseeable future.


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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