It’s crunch time in Tallahassee, a period in the annual legislative session where bills move out of committee and to the floor with a vote, often followed by the governor’s signature.
Once again, many of those bills focus on LGBT oppression. Couple that with administrative and a GOP controlled bureaucracy taking on LGBT supportive businesses, and it is truly troubling times.
While activists do what they can in Tallahassee, people are making their voices heard in South Florida. On March 26, people will “drag up the drive” for the March In Heels. Starting at 11 a.m. at the Pride Center, people will march up the drive and make stops along the way.
“This is a collaborative effort across Greater Fort Lauderdale. One of our goals is to make our voices heard in Tallahassee. That’s a long way away and [lawmakers] need to hear that they can’t take away our civil rights.” march co-organizer Bud Beehler said.
The one-mile march is dotted with stops along the way where people can register to vote, re-register for mail-in ballots (which must now be done every year due to Republican voter suppression efforts), and get updated on the latest news from the session.
One of those stops is LIT bar. Owner Charles Horton said it’s critical for local businesses to be visible in the fight for civil rights. “Both of my bars, LIT and LeBoy, feel that it’s very important to be active community sponsors.”
People are encouraged to wear heels and to wear Pride colors. Each stop will be hosted by drag queens. This is a conscious choice and a political statement, as the DeSantis administration is targeting venues that host drag entertainment. Among their efforts are to deem all drag as “adult,” regardless of the content, and revoke liquor licenses of venues that don’t bow to their dictates.
“Drag is a part of our culture and community. We want to do our part in fighting to protect it,” Horton said.
A broad coalition has been invited to participate, including leaders and allies in the Black, latino, and other communities supportive of civil rights.
“Civil rights are civil rights. What’s happening in Tallahassee is fascism. They’re trying to tell us how to dress, how to think, how to behave. If they don’t like what you’re doing then they try to take away your rights to speak out.”
Another organizer is Wilton Manors city commissioner Chris Caputo. He said that local activism is critical.
“We’ve got to start the fight some place. We’ve got to get in front of it. We see how every time they have a little success, they go a little further. This is about who we are as a community and we must be heard as a community.”
The route runs from the Pride Center and goes up Dixie Hwy. to Five Points, then up Wilton Drive, followed by the official after party at Hunter’s Nightclub.