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With Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival less than a month away, there is one thing everyone agrees on: the event will happen.

Beyond that? It’s complicated.

At Wilton Manors’ city commission meeting on May 23, Mayor Scott Newton reaffirmed that the parade and party will go on.

“I want to reiterate: we are having Stonewall. We are having the parade. We’re changing nothing of what we did last year.”
Newton was addressing the anxiety over a new Florida law that bans children from attending “live adult entertainment.” The law is incredibly vague, likely by design, but it goes into great detail to classify many elements of drag entertainment as falling under the law.

In an effort to be extremely careful (violations could lead to loss of liquor licenses and removal of elected officials and city employees), many have interpreted this to preclude all public drag performances.

Newton takes a wider view.

“Everything we do that day is within the law, I believe. I haven’t seen anything in the last couple of years that would even begin to be [in violation] of that [law]. I have no fear or reservations of having Stonewall this year.”

Nothing Has Changed, Everything Has Changed

From the city to producers of Stonewall, everyone is saying the same thing, that all events have always been required to follow all laws, so nothing has changed. But the law has changed, and that could change everything.

“We will abide by the law the governor has signed,” Newton said.

Jeff Sterling, CEO of Stonewall, echoed that sentiment.

“We have always been required to follow all laws.”

The problem is, no one knows for sure exactly what that means. People in drag will be allowed into the event space, and in the parade. Beyond that, no one can say for sure what is being targeted. Will a drag queen hosting a stage, no matter how tame the act, run afoul of the governor’s fascist minions waiting for a “gotcha!” moment on camera?

Such a scenario was on Newton’s mind.

“[Businesses] could hire a drag queen who comes up and if they adjust themselves one time, the governor’s people are there taking a picture of it.”

“The law does not ban drag,” Sterling told SFGN. “So I don’t have to make decisions on a hypothetical. What appears to be obvious is the governor has a special place in his heart for drag and Disney.”

The Real Villain

Much of the arguing is within the LGBT community itself, with many calling for open defiance, damn the consequences. While that is a worthwhile discussion, all ire must be directed back to the man who put us in this position to begin with: Gov. Ron DeSantis.

He signed the bill after forcing it through his rubber stamp legislature in Tallahassee. Even before the new law, DeSantis was already changing the interpretation of prior laws and regulations, using administrative measures against venues that hosted drag events with children present.

“We all knew this was coming since before he went after those places. He was quite public on where he draws the moral lines,” Sterling said. “The only new thing is a sense of fear and confusion that is causing fractions of the gay community to attack internally out of fear.”