ED. Note: We originally described the event incorrectly. It is a festival. Also, the name of the organizers of the event is Bay-Pride of Panama City. We regret the errors.
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay-Pride Fest this weekend is usually an event to celebrate unity in the LGBTQ community, but not everyone is included this year.
Drag queens are prohibited from performing in the parade in light of a recent bill Governor Ron Desantis signed last month.
Drag queens have performed at Bay-Pride Fest for many years, but they’re excluded from this year’s event following the Desantis-backed bill banning sexually explicit public performances in front of children.
“I feel like this is a target on drag because we have done stuff for children way before Desantis was in office,” Drag Queen Robby Foster said. “We did a show at Tyndall Air Force Base. We did a Disney theme, so everything was obviously appropriate. It was Disney Princess everything. And there were children there and they loved it. We’ve gone so far back just because somebody wants to be president. Literally, just because he wants to be president.”
Bay-Pride of Panama City is responsible for putting on the event. They’ve decided to hold an event this weekend without the participation of the drag queens. It’s a decision Foster finds disappointing.
“So Pride Month is about unity, and it’s about the community coming together and supporting each other. But as soon as one member, our group of the community was excluded, they said, okay, that is fine,” Foster said. “We will exclude them and still have our event. Which, I don’t feel like that is the community coming together if you truly want it to be a community and you want it to be for everybody. When the drag was removed from the that the event should have been canceled or postponed.”
Drag queens fear the bill will reverse some of the progress they’ve been able to achieve with regard to being accepted in society.
“We want to show you that we are people, too,” Foster said, “We’re artists. We’re human beings. We’re not some abomination. We’re not a freak. We’re literally creative people who are expressing ourselves. And we enjoy what we do. Art is our passion. Drag is our passion and our art, and that’s all it is.”
Bay-Pride of Panama City has declined to comment.