Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ recent executive order banning “sexually explicit” performances has caused controversy in the state’s performing arts community, with many concerned that the order will harm the industry and violate performers’ rights.
In response to the order, some venues have canceled drag shows and other performances featuring LGBTQ+ performers, while others have altered their programming to avoid potential legal issues.
Performers and advocates for the arts argue that the order is an attack on artistic expression and could harm the state’s economy by discouraging tourism and damaging the reputation of Florida’s performing arts scene.
“The arts are what make us human. They are what make us unique and different, and to try and legislate that out of existence is a very dangerous thing,” said one local theater director.
The controversy comes amid a broader push by DeSantis and other Republican lawmakers to restrict LGBTQ+ rights in the state. Earlier this year, the governor signed a bill banning transgender girls and women from competing in women’s sports at the high school and college levels.
Critics of DeSantis’ policies argue that they are discriminatory and unconstitutional, and have vowed to fight them in court.
In the meantime, many performers and arts organizations are left wondering how to navigate the legal and political landscape in order to continue producing innovative and thought-provoking work.
“It’s a challenging time for all of us,” said one drag performer. “But we will continue to fight for our right to express ourselves and share our art with the world.”