Organizers in St. Cloud, Fla., announced this week that they would be canceling an LGBTQ+ Pride festival next month, joining at least two other events as they fell victim to Florida’s harsh new anti-LGBTQ+ laws during other organizers doubled their measures.
The St. Cloud organizers wrote Taking to social media, they said their decision to cancel the event in June – Pride month – was “difficult” and “not light-hearted”.
Florida’s far-right governor Ron DeSantis signed a number of laws called “discriminatory” from the human rights campaign on Wednesday. Measures include a ban on gender-based childcare of any kind, a gender-appropriate toilet ban, an expansion of the Education Act nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay,” and restrictions on performances by drag queens, which are an integral part of Pride.
The legislation prompted Equality Florida, an LGBTQ+ civil rights group, to file a lawsuit a travel warning for the entire state.
“These laws have created a climate of fear and hostility towards LGBTQIA+ people in Florida. We believe hosting an LGBTQIA+ event in this environment would pose a risk to our community,” said St. Cloud organizers.
They added: “We hope you understand our decision.”
The event, held south of Orlando, was expected to include food, drink and entertainers, including drag queens. An event in Tampa called Pride on the River, scheduled for September, was also canceled this week, with a promoter citing the riverfront public venue and spotlighting drag performers.
“In the end, we didn’t want to take any chances,” said Carrie West, President of Tampa Pride. said the Tampa Bay Times.
Port St Lucie, Florida, announced in April that the Pride parade would not go ahead as planned in anticipation of the anti-drag law. The city, north of Miami, also restricted the former all-ages Pride festival to those 21 and older. upset some parents.
DeSantis claims that the anti-drag law “protects children from sexually explicit content.” It uses vague language like “live adult performances” and “sexual arousal” to target drag shows, which are now banned in public spaces and adult-only in private spaces.
However, like any other form of artistic expression – such as acting – drag is subject to change according to time and place.
Other organizers reassured their communities that their events would go ahead as planned.
“Lake County Pride will never back down,” say Orlando-Area County organizers wrote on Facebook.
“No unconstitutional law will stop us from celebrating our PRIDE event, the 2023 Lake County Pride Celebration!”
The St. Petersburg Pride is also an excursion.
Billing itself as Florida’s largest LGBTQ+ pride festival, the event is expected to span a month of parties, concerts and family-friendly events, culminating in a parade and street fair.
organizer dr Byron Green told HuffPost that St. Pete Pride is in “constant communication” with city officials, with the support of attorneys.
“We know it would be a difficult decision,” Green said when asked about canceling Pride given the political climate in Florida.
“The first Pride was a riot created by drag queens of color and transgender women,” Green said, referring to the Stonewall riot. “So it would be disingenuous for us not to embrace this and support our drag artists and trans community in any way we can.”
“We will definitely support these artists,” Green added, “in a way that allows us to stay within local regulations.”