Anna Eskamani slams Ron DeSantis’ ‘homophobic’ targeting of Christmas drag shows
Image via

Screen Shot 2022-12-29 at 9.20.06 AM
The state threatened liquor licenses of major venues if they allow minors into shows.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is sending letters to major venues planning to host holiday drag shows. In response, Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani is framing those potential investigations as selective outrage meant to gin up homophobia.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) on Wednesday sent a letter to The Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation. That message cited the organization’s liquor license and a performance of A Drag Queen Christmas scheduled the same evening the letter was sent.

“To avoid action being taken against your license, it is your obligation to ensure that minors are prohibited from attending the Drag Fans drag show,” reads the letter from DBPR Secretary Melanie Griffin. “If minors are allowed to attend this drag show, the Department will take any and all actions available to ensure that you do not pose a threat to minors in the future.”

Eskamani, an Orlando Democrat, slammed the letter, arguing the administration is inciting faux anger over a non-issue and is taking a hypocritical stance on parental rights.

“DBPR could spend their time cracking down on human trafficking taking place in Florida hotel rooms. Instead they’re pursuing a homophobic agenda in targeting drag shows,” Eskamani wrote.

“It’s a waste of money, time and an attempt to create political outrage when none has existed before. In fact, this specific drag show has been taking place for eight years — and no harm has been caused.”

The move from DBPR comes after DeSantis’ Office publicly targeted similar performances, also hosted by Drag Fans, held Dec. 26 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and Dec. 27 at Miami’s James L. Knight Center. A similar event is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 29, in Clearwater at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

“Exposing children to sexually explicit activity is a crime in Florida, and such action violates the Department’s licensing standards for operating a business and holding a liquor license,” tweeted DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin.

The shows are marketed as “all ages,” though the Orlando show was reportedly marketed locally as open to patrons age 18 and up.

Regardless, Eskamani said it should be parents, not the DBPR, who decide whether drag performances pose a threat to their own children.

“It’s clear that Gov. DeSantis practices an ideology of convenience. He preaches parental rights and freedom only when it’s convenient to him,” Eskamani said. “If you don’t like drag shows, then don’t go to one. Instead, we see events getting canceled out of safety, and LGBTQ+ people living in fear. We’ll continue to push back against these homophobic attacks and stand for freedom for all.”

Before Halloween, a drag queen story hour event was canceled at the LGBT+ Center Orlando following threats by neo-Nazi groups.

Officials within the DeSantis administration say the recent Christmas shows contain sexually explicit material, some of which has been shared by right-wing critics on social media. A Fort Lauderdale show was disrupted by protesters.

“The Department has reason to believe that this drag show is of a sexual nature, involving the exposure or exhibition of sexual organs, simulated sexual activity, and/or the sexualization of children’s stories,” wrote DBPR Secretary Melanie Griffin in her letter to the Orlando venue.

“The Department has also become aware that drag shows by Drag Fans have been marketed to and attended by minors, including young children. Sexually explicit drag show performances constitute public nuisances, lewd activity and disorderly conduct when minors are in attendance.”

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].


  • Republicans are corrupt

    December 29, 2022 at 9:41 am

    Wow ron desantan is really showing how evil he is. He thinks because he won a fix election based on lies and thievery that he can do and say whatever he wants this is what tyrants do this is what Hitler did. And this is what evil looks like. Ron DeSantis is pure evil.

  • Elliott Offen

    December 29, 2022 at 9:42 am

    And the grooming conspiracy theories continue by the likes of Paul Pastarelli Linguini and the Christian fascist right wing. It’s the new Pizzagate. All this in the absence of any platform or plan to do anything for anyone who isn’t already rich. Freedom for the rich and freedom t-shirts for everyone else. This is the new GOP motto.

  • Tjb

    December 29, 2022 at 9:55 am

    Will DeSantis ban the show M*A*S*H from Florida television because Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger dresses in drag? For an governor that promotes freedom, DeSantis is a hypocrite and a joke.

    • L. Polly

      December 29, 2022 at 11:17 am

      I don’t recall Sgt. Klinger doing “sexually explicit” things. Do you?

      I don’t believe Sgt. Klinger demanded that he be allowed to use the ladies’ restroom, either. And I don’t believe Klinger bragged about being gay; was he gay? Or was the cross-dressing just his effort to be expelled from the military?

      • James R. Miles

        December 29, 2022 at 11:48 am

        Earth to Polly, you don’t get it, do you? Let me explain. The fact that Klinger dressed up as a woman IS THE POINT! Under DeSatan, he wouldn’t be allowed to do it or be shown on T.V.! Censorship is all a part of the right-wing fascist Nazi plan. DeSatan fits right in!! Being stupid is part of it as well!! The GOP, the party of the lawless, who supported an insurrection is totally anti-American! Oh, remember, don’t say gay! F’ DeSatan!!!!!

        • L. Polly

          December 30, 2022 at 3:11 pm

          Gee, I’d think that Klinger would be fine as long as he didn’t flaunt his cross-dressing in front of young children while swinging his nether-regions to and fro in their faces. I haven’t heard that he won’t be allowed on t.v. in Florida, either. ???

          Guess you know better, James.

      • Tjb

        December 29, 2022 at 12:00 pm

        Looks like you have a problem if a person is gay. Also, have you been to these shows or just vomiting misinformation from homophobia leaders

        • L. Polly

          December 30, 2022 at 3:18 pm

          My gay brother and my gay sister might disagree with you.

      • cassandra

        December 29, 2022 at 4:50 pm

        What is disturbing, Polly, is that whenever Ron talks about sex he **ALWAYS** makes it about children.

        • L. Polly

          December 30, 2022 at 3:16 pm

          Children ARE the most vulnerable and also the most innocent of all people, or at least they USED TO BE.

          Now that they’re being taught to question their gender, that America is systemically racist, and that it’s okay for a man-dressed-as-a-woman to use the ladies room (where he/she might or might not rape a child), they must be very confused! Can they not maintain their innocence, at least for their first few years in school?!

          • cassandra

            December 30, 2022 at 6:22 pm

            I haven’t heard of any women’s room rapes; men in dresses prefer to hunt in churches.

            Children ARE the most vulnerable, which makes Ron’s child & sex obsession so disturbing. You’ve noticed Ron never talks about sex without also talking about children.

            And look at Ron’s Drag Queen fetish, Polly! He should just put on the dress and COME OUT of Casey’s closet.

            You, being so super-sensitive to sexual goings-on, must be outraged. Quit defending the man!! Let Casey handle this one. (No pun intended, Polly.)

            And, Polly, you’re correct, kids should be able to be kids. Ron’s forcing third grade rape victims into motherhood proves he’s not at all concerned about their childhood or innocence. Ronald is only concerned about Ronald.

  • Tjb

    December 29, 2022 at 10:17 am

    Our Florida foster care system falls under DeSantis’s authority. Should DeSantis be more concern about the sex trafficking of children in our Foster Care System?
    Or does peer pressure from his support base cause him to focus on frivolous red meat issues such as drag shows.
    I would be incline to save a child from sex trafficking and rape than not allowing them to attend a drag show with their parent

    • L. Polly

      December 29, 2022 at 11:19 am

      I guess you’re suggesting that DeSantis probably can’t do more than one thing at a time. I bet he can.

      • James R. Miles

        December 29, 2022 at 11:50 am


      • Tjb

        December 29, 2022 at 11:53 am

        No. He has his priorities wrong. He should be more concerned about the sex trafficking and the rape of our children in his foster care system. Why isn’t DeSantis not putting more focus on this real issue vs drag shows.

      • cassandra

        December 29, 2022 at 4:39 pm

        Refuses is more like it!! DeDICKtator is not protecting children!

        DeSantis has declined to issue fines after over 14,000 violations of sex trafficking laws by Florida hotels…”

        In one case, a 17-year-old girl was choked because she would not turn over all her earnings to her sex trafficker.” —-Sun Sentinel

  • tom palmer

    December 29, 2022 at 10:56 am

    How exactly do the Tallahassee bureaucrats. define sexually explicit?

  • Jay Smif

    December 29, 2022 at 11:07 am

    I’m sure pudgy fascist Ron DeSantis is equally as “furious” about parents who allow their children to watch R-rated movies unsupervised, or those that take their grade-school-age children to gun ranges as well, right? Or is he just another worthless conservative hypocrite as well?

  • Randy Ross

    December 29, 2022 at 1:59 pm

    So Eskamani is pro parental choice here, but was firmly against parental choice with the Parental Rights Law? You can’t have it both ways..

    • Tjb

      December 30, 2022 at 12:05 pm

      Parental rights law is about restrictions not choice.

      • cassandra

        December 30, 2022 at 2:20 pm

        Thank you

    • L. Polly

      December 30, 2022 at 3:23 pm

      Wrong, Randy. As long as you’re a liberal, you can definitely have it any way you want to. Liberals aren’t the least bit embarrassed by their own hypocrisy.

      • Tjb

        January 2, 2023 at 5:11 pm

        Polly (Paul) … Randt Ross is a Republican

  • Rob

    January 2, 2023 at 11:37 am

    I am not one to defend DeSantis as I disagree with most of his platform, but on this topic, he is correct. I attended “Drag Queen Christmas” at The Plaza in Orlando and enjoyed the show. The show was geared towards adults and definitely was not a place I would bring my 13 year old son.
    For the record, I am a Democrat. Democrats in Florida need to get the act together. The party is an absolute train wreck.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn