Lizzo invites drag queens on stage to protest Tennessee legislation
Pop singer Lizzo invited drag queens to the stage during a show in Knoxville, Tennessee, to protest the state’s restrictions on drag performances.
Ryan Ross, USA TODAY
The Hyatt Regency Miami and a Florida regulatory agency recently reached a settlement agreement in a legal dispute after minors attended a Christmas-themed drag show in 2022.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), filed a complaint against the Hyatt Regency in Miami after minors attended “A Drag Queen Christmas” at the James L. Knight Center, located on hotel premises.
Court records show the that DBPR initially sought to remove the hotel’s liquor license. The complaint said the hotel promoted the show as being open to all ages without disclosing “the sexually explicit nature of the Show’s performances,” where performers appeared wearing “sexually suggestive clothing and prosthetic female genitalia.”
As part of the settlement announced by DBPR Wednesday, Hyatt must pay a $5,000 fine and bar anyone under the age of 18 to attend shows with “specific sexual activities” as defined by Florida state law moving forward. The hotel admits no liability by agreeing to the settlement, the court records state.
The Hyatt corporation did not respond to USA TODAY’s multiple emails requesting comment.
“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, when licensees break the law, they are held accountable,” said DBPR secretary Melanie S. Griffin in the release.
A spokesperson at Big Time Operator, the company behind Drag Fans and A Drag Queen Christmas said that DeSantis’s efforts to stifle drag shows are “disgraceful.”
“We have played to sellout crowds every year in Florida, except, last year was politically charged when Mr. DeSantis set his eyes on the White House and used drag queens to fire up his base,” Murray Hodgson said Thursday in an emailed statement to USA TODAY.
DeSantis’s ongoing efforts to ban drag shows
In May, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1438, a bill that was widely seen as an attack on drag shows and performances. Florida state law already prohibited minors from seeing shows that could be considered explicit.
The law used vague language that could include drag shows and authorized DBPR to fine businesses or revoke their license. It also deemed “knowingly” allowing a child to see an adult performance as a criminal misdemeanor.
A federal judge blocked the law from going into effect in June on the grounds that it was too vague and potentially unconstitutional. On Nov. 16, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Florida’s request to allow the law to go into effect temporarily.
Still, DeSantis’s administration filed a 73-page brief on Nov. 24 in a continued effort to overturn the block, CBS Miami reported.
‘A Drag Queen Christmas’ excited to return to Florida this season
A Drag Queen Christmas is a nationwide tour featuring many performers who previously competed on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Hodgson said the show, in its 9th year, is the longest running drag tour in America.
The tour stops in cities around the country, including El Paso, Texas, Savannah, Georgia, and Eugene, Oregon. All the shows are open to all ages, unless specifically otherwise noted in promotional materials, according to the Drag Fans website.
A Drag Queen Christmas has scheduled shows in Jacksonville and Miami Beach between Christmas and New Years. Both shows specify that patrons must be 18 years or older.
“We are excited to return to Florida again this year,” Hodgson said.
Contributing: C.A. Bridges, John Kennedy, Brandon Girod; USA TODAY Network – Florida