In the face of the growing possibility of a Republican wave this November, Florida Democrats will gather this weekend to figure out ways to motivate the queer vote.

Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus is hosting a weekend-long event with state and national party members scheduled to appear.

2022 Summer Conference: Without You We Lose! will take place at the Westin in Cypress Creek Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, with the goal of introducing candidates to the LGBT community and working to stop Gov. DeSantis and the Republican-controlled state legislature from steamrolling the community. Scheduled to attend include Rep. Val Demings, who is challenging Sen. Marco Rubio. Gubernatorial candidates include Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist. Fried is the only statewide elected Democrat, and Crist used to be governor when he was a Republican.

Stephen Gaskill, president of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, said activism must translate to the ballot box.

“The young people who fought the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in school walkouts, those impacted by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the vulnerable Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ communities being targeted by Florida Republicans in legislative attacks, verbal slurs, and physical assaults — we all need to be inspired, uplifted, and motivated to vote for change. That’s what we’ll accomplish this weekend.”

Several candidates for Florida House and Senate, along with congressional candidates are scheduled to attend, including Rep Carlos Guillermo Smith, Rep. Michele Rayner, and Florida’s newest member of Congress, Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy will be honored with the Congressional Leadership Award for her role on the House January 6 Committee. Students who organized protests against the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans discussion of any LGBT issues in lower grades in Florida schools will lead a panel.

The weekend starts Friday night with a welcome reception featuring Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis. Saturday will feature several speakers and panel discussions, with a cocktail reception that night.

Drag Queens for Democracy

The weekend wraps up with a special Sunday drag brunch designed to “get out the queer vote.” Brunch is at 10:30 a.m. at the Westin Cypress Creek Hotel, and will feature South Florida icons including Shasta McNastie, Erika Norell, Velvet Lenore, Lady Marisa and others.

Also appearing will be trans activist Misty Eyez, who will lead a special edition of Drag Queen Story Time, entitled, “Dear Governor DeSantis.” Usually story time is a drag queen reading to children. This weekend there will be a very targeted audience of one, DeSantis. He has voiced support to make it illegal for parents to take their children to any kind of drag show.

Misty Eyez said it’s important to reach out to all, telling SFGN, “The secret agenda behind Drag Queen story time is to teach diversity, and tolerance of others that are special or different. In hopes to reduce bullying of children of all marginalized communities. Drag Queen Storytime is about educating children about diversity and acceptance.”

Misty said it’s an event that’s close to her heart and her history.

“The reason I personally love doing this for the children is I didn't see my first drag queen until I was in college, and I remember the shock and awe I experienced with bells and whistles going off in my head that I wasn't alone, another human had the same desires as me to wear a dress. It was magical, speaking of magic, children are already accustomed to seeing clowns, and magical beings but with exposure to Drag Queens that maybe one or two kids that come can secretly relate to me. My hope is that this child will not be prone to depression, self-harm or worse suicidal ideation.”


For tickets to the brunch, or to learn more about the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, visit LGBTQDems.org.

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