Sarasota Republicans freak out at what’s for sale at Venice Pride
Image via Venice Pride

Screen Shot 2022-11-15 at 8.34.52 AM
Sex toys were sold by drag queens at the event.

Republican officials in Sarasota are expressing outrage that sex toys were publicly sold at Venice Pride.

Jack Brill, acting Chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, said if the Pride celebration claims to be a family-friendly event, there shouldn’t be booths with thong-wearing drag queens hocking such merchandise.

“An outrageous and unacceptable display went on Sunday at the Venice Pride Festival that requires a full investigation. A display of rainbow-colored dildos were for sale at a sidewalk booth with children walking by, while a pair of drag queens in thongs, tutus, and spike heels danced lasciviously in front of the gazebo in Centennial Park,” Brill said.

While similar goods can be found in any mall with a Spencer’s, Brill said this was a matter of public concern because booths were found at a community event held on public property.

“This was done on Venice city property with a Venice city permit approved by staff and promoted on the Venice government website. All of this is wildly unacceptable,” Brill said. “We are demanding a full investigation be launched into this affront to our children and our community. We need to know who approved it and who oversaw such a travesty.”

Notably, much of the anger surrounds images of a ring toss using rainbow-colored dildos. Photos were shared online by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and by the Libs of TikTok Twitter account, which has 1.5 million followers.

Organizers of Venice Pride said a vendor brought the game. The Community AIDS Network, a group in Sarasota, frequently brings the ring toss to events to community events to encourage safe sex and encourage condom use.

“We understand, if it is at an event with kids and families there, they don’t bring ring toss, but the didn’t realize we would have kids and families, or they didn’t read material our materials,” said Nancy Wilson, a board member for Venice Pride. She said CAN apologized to Pride organizers about the ring toss being present at the event.

“We had no complaints from parents, and our understanding is no parents brought kids to the ring toss,” Wilson said. “It is something that blew up on social media.”

Wilson said Venice Pride, which held its first event ever in the city this year, will work with parents and with vendors to improve the atmosphere next year.

But she also said this Pride was met with protests, and Proud Boys members disrupted activities later in the day.

“Being in Venice, which is more conservative than some communities where we hold Pride, that’s to be expected,” Wilson said. “But we think Pride is very much needed in places like Venice, and it was extremely well received.”

The outrage comes on the heels of similar controversy around Pride events and drag queen story hours around the state.

Brill noted Venice has elected Republican leadership in recent years, and he trusts city leaders will investigate.

“The Republican Party of Sarasota County will not stand by while our children’s innocence is violated,” Brill said.

“Just as we committed unparalleled resources to elect School Board members in August who will protect our children in the schools, so we will fight to protect them at every point in our communities. We know our Republican Venice City Council Members will take the lead and require this investigation be untaken immediately and a pause be placed on future permits for these groups until it is completed. There must be accountability to ensure this cannot happen again.”

Sarasota County Commissioner Christian Ziegler, vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida, said he was most concerned the event was marketed as family-friendly, but the presence of overtly sexual materials ran counter to that narrative.

“It’s a sad, embarrassing and infuriating day in Venice when you cannot take your kids to Main Street for a sandwich or walk your dog at the park without being confronted by drag queens twerking near a ‘Kids Korner’ while children are competing in a game of dildo ring toss,” Ziegler said.

“To be clear – the issue here is bigger than a ‘pride event’ — the real issue is having the over-the-top promotion of sexuality forced onto members of the public (especially children) without their permission by conducting it in a public square that is unavoidable by innocent bystanders. The burden should not be on me to never take my kids off my property in order to avoid my children confronted by sex toys on public property at the age of 3. I am done with groups attempting to force their radical values and agenda on my family, and I believe every sane person in our community agrees with me.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


30 comments

  • Wlm L. Leap

    November 15, 2022 at 9:11 am

    THIS from members of a political party whose “leader” brags openly about grabbing women by their most intimate anatomy ? Those remarks are hardly family friendly, and more offensive to young people than are rubber toys, These irate persons best tend to their own households first, before raising complaints about their (queer) neighbors.

    • Jess

      November 15, 2022 at 2:33 pm

      This! Maybe Jack needs to give them a try.

    • Sigmund

      November 16, 2022 at 2:42 am

      But dildos are still inappropriate at a family event. Lame whattaboutism.

    • Mike

      November 16, 2022 at 8:33 am

      Your comment is incorrect, Trump was not openly bragging, it was a private conversation that was leaked, what happened at the Venice Pride event was wrong and hopefully they won’t be allowed back.

  • Donald J Trump

    November 15, 2022 at 9:45 am

    As a New York liberal at heart, I care nothing about vulgar shows in front of God and everyone. I just use the men in women’s sports issue to rope in stupid religious people. Vote for me anyway in 2024. Send me more money as well. Need legal defense.

    • Hugo Fuguzev

      November 15, 2022 at 10:57 pm

      Don’t forget you also don’t care about democracy or the rule of law otherwise you wouldn’t have incited riot on January 6th and ignored a Congressional subpoena on November 14th. Maybe you should turn yourself in and just plead guilty already. You’re really yesterday’s news with Ron Deathsentence quickly becoming the new darling of the narrow minded bigoted American idiot.

  • Linwood Wright

    November 15, 2022 at 10:41 am

    Republicans want small government. Small enough to fit in your personal life.

  • Mark

    November 15, 2022 at 12:04 pm

    For what it’s worth, I know a few Democrats and gay men who don’t like “A display of rainbow-colored dildos were for sale at a sidewalk booth with children walking by”. I hope we can rise above characterizing this as a partisan political issue. It’s about how and where we want our kids to learn about accepting people with different sexual orientation.

    • Cheeseman

      November 17, 2022 at 11:07 pm

      And what Religion are you getting that theory from? “Our” children are not Your children to push your Beliefs onto. Who says other people’s children have to “accept” this thinking at all? This is straight up perversion and harm.

  • Moccy

    November 15, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    Dildos can normally be found at Spencers?

    • Michael Bishop

      November 15, 2022 at 7:04 pm

      And at CVS.

    • Dave

      November 16, 2022 at 8:05 am

      Drag queens in thongs selling rainbow colored dildos is definitely not appropriate at a family-friendly event. It’s a free country so do what you want, but cheap that s*** out of the public eye and away from our children.

      • Wlm L. Leap

        November 16, 2022 at 8:20 am

        Who is “our” ? If “our” doesn’t want “our” children to see dildoes or whatever, shield their eyes, steer them away from the exhibit, or don’t attend the event.

      • Cato the Elder

        November 17, 2022 at 7:28 am

        I feel the same way about religion. People who take their children to church/temple should be charged with abuse.

  • marylou

    November 15, 2022 at 1:37 pm

    “Our children’s innocence is violated”. You mean the 4th grade mothers, Brill??

    • Beren

      November 16, 2022 at 2:44 am

      Whattaboutawhattabouta what?

      • marylou

        November 16, 2022 at 2:47 pm

        Not really. I wasn’t deflecting or defending dildo sellers by saying “look what *you* did” or “what about forced child pregnancy?” My comment was entirely about the violation of children’s innocence by being forced to give birth to their rapist’s baby, not a condemnation of Brill’s hysteria over dildos that kids probably didn’t even notice anyway.

  • Grace Reagan

    November 15, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    Wow, is this really a partisan issue? Imagine defending the dildo ring toss game at the “family friendly pride” by saying “they can also be seen at an adult-themed store.”

  • Ang

    November 15, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    Oh boy, FAKE outrage! No mention of the Sarasota country, Republican supported Proud Boys were there! Where’s the concern that an American far-right, neo-fascist, white nationalist, and exclusively male organization that promotes and engages in political violence in the United States, is supported by the Sarasota Republicans.

  • Hugo Fuguzev

    November 15, 2022 at 10:54 pm

    Children are safer with drag queens and most LGBTQ people than clergy. FACT.

    • Hazel

      November 16, 2022 at 2:46 am

      So you think showing dildos to little kids is OK then?

      • Hugo Fuguzev

        November 16, 2022 at 11:55 pm

        Sure – Ron Deathsentence’s face is on tv all the time. That’s worse than a dildo. #endtheGOP

    • Torq

      November 16, 2022 at 7:28 am

      Maybe YOUR clergy. Fact

      • marylou

        November 16, 2022 at 6:13 pm

        If Drag Queens and LGBTQ+ people were the pedophiles, Fox News would be telling you about it. All Day. Every day. Desantis would be showing you pictures and blaming it on Biden.

        Recent arrests include a Republican, straight, white, male, Christian, anti-abortion extremist attempting sexual assault on a minor, and a straight, white, male, Christian, anti-grooming, anti-abortion, Republican politician who a cop saw sitting in his truck across the street from a daycare with his pants around his knees and his hands visible and busy. A straight, white, male, Christian pastor had abused a young woman for years, but when she finally reported it the congregation attacked her for telling anyone, although they believed her that it happened.

        Pattern: Republican, straight, white, male, Christian, anti-abortionist. There are many more, but these immediately came to mind.

      • Hugo Fuguzev

        November 16, 2022 at 11:53 pm

        Do you mean YOU’RE? Not surprising to find another poorly educated Trumper here. But no, I’m not clergy; I’m an atheist. I prefer facts and science over superstition and nonsense.

  • Sarasota Veganarchist

    November 16, 2022 at 11:03 am

    “The burden should not be on me to never take my kids off my property in order to avoid my children confronted by sex toys on public property at the age of 3.”

    Bahahaha this same person and his wife think immuno-compromised people that don’t want to get sick and die from full grown toddlers refusing to wear masks should have to stay home. The lack of introspection and awareness is staggering.

    • Cheeseman

      November 17, 2022 at 11:12 pm

      No such thing as immuno whatever. Yes children are not supposed to be exposed to perversion and forced to see it when being in public. And you have no evidence any alleged molecule will get you at a grocery store. Def Stay Home and wear your face diaper.

      • Ang

        November 18, 2022 at 8:59 am

        LOL, ignorance is so prevalent and accepted by the Republican flock in Sarasota and Charlotte counties. Our quiet and quaint SW Florida has been disrupted by the right wing bigots who flocked here so they could run around without masks during Covid.
        They create this FAKE outrage. I saw them with their cameras and phones stalking everyone at the little harmless Venice pride. Like crazed cult members they felt entitled to find anything to make an issue over. Meanwhile the Proud boys were there to specifically attack Drag performers. Why would any community tolerate the treasonous Proud boys? They are the mob for the SW FL Republican party now. Children and women should not have to see and be around these hateful bigoted men. They are the real threat and perversion. The Proud boys threaten the lives of women and children more than any Pride festival ever will. 

  • Bradenton area

    November 18, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    The people screaming about this can be seen in “Trump that b1tch” shirts or with Kamala Harris bj joke bumper stickers. The outrage is definitely overblown.

    However as a parent who’s taken kids to a pride event, I think someone should have noticed the dildo ring toss didn’t fit the venue and put it away. It’s still definitely not grooming.

    • Ang

      November 18, 2022 at 6:25 pm

      I walked through and didn’t notice it.

Comments are closed.


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