It has been a busy week clarifying the facts about Stonewall and drag.
I understand, in retrospect, how the recent amendment was interpreted by members of our community as a ban on drag. I hope this letter clearly states my position and the facts.
WMEG, the event producer, handles the selection of entertainment and performances. Let me be clear: drag queens are allowed at Stonewall and we have not told WMEG that drag queens are prohibited from being a part of the event. We’ve not asked WMEG to set an age requirement for entry, either. We’re an inclusive city, and all are welcome at our cultural celebration.
At the recent commission meeting, I personally called for people to show up in drag and stated that I planned to be there in drag. To that end, I do not personally believe that the type of drag performances we’ve come to expect at Stonewall Pride are illegal. I believe our cultural expression of drag is inherently artistic and politically valuable. Look for me at Stonewall: I will be in the parade in drag as “Lady Vote” and am working hard on a performance that I don’t believe is illegal. The Governor may not agree with me, but that’s a protracted legal battle I’m comfortable taking on for myself.
On the other hand, I am not comfortable with city employees losing their jobs at the whim of the Governor. The same law prohibits city employees from issuing a permit where a prohibited performance occurs. City employees are amazing public servants who are asked to put aside their personal beliefs and uphold state and federal laws. It is our job as elected officials to take on political battles. I believe shielding city employees from being political targets is also one of my responsibilities as a leader. I won’t put city employees' jobs at risk by positioning them to be held liable over different interpretations of the law.
All of our event permits have always (and will always) say the permit holder agrees to comply with all laws. Since the original permit was signed prior to this legislation becoming law, our city attorney advised us that it would be necessary for Stonewall to sign the amendment. I believe this was a prudent decision to protect city employees from loss of employment.
I do not regret protecting city staff from this political fight and I hope my appearance in the Stonewall Parade as “Lady Vote” sends a clear message that I don’t believe that drag is illegal as it of clear artistic and political value. I do regret that we didn’t provide more background into our reasoning for approving the amendment, but I hope my statements here make my position very clear. If the Governor’s opinion of what is legal differs from mine, I am prepared to fight that battle on behalf of our community. I hope you’ll stand with me – and forgive me if my makeup is a hot mess.
- Chris Caputo, Wilton Manors Commissioner
Drag Queens Will be at Stonewall Fest, Drag Performances May Not Be