Community meeting addresses new bills over fear they target drag performers

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A new bill could impact Central Florida businesses and drag performers over “adult entertainment.”


It would give the state the power to fine, suspend or revoke the license of a public venue based on its definition.

A meeting was held in Kissimmee Monday night about the House and Senate bill. Opponents said the legislation targets drag shows.

The bills were filed last week. They could give a state agency the power to punish public venues in Florida for allowing a child to see what state officials define as an adult live entertainment performance.

READ: Businesses react to bills they say could target drag shows, impede operations

While neither bills say anything specifically about drag shows, critics said it’s clear who is being singled out.

“It’s intended to marginalize and restrict drag performances and the LGBTQ community under the guise of protecting children,” former Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith said.

Drag entertainer Angelique Young said the meeting Monday was “about the community really coming together.”

READ: Drag show moved from Orlando venue amid ‘uncertainties regarding age-appropriate content’

“I think venue owners have a responsibility as the people who profit the most from these events, that they provide the support and security that’s necessary,” Young said. “Most people will have to talk to their venue owners and let them know the depth of what’s going on.”

A group plans to head to Tallahassee to have their voices heard.

Guillermo-Smith said there’s also concern the proposed House and Senate bills infringe on the rights of parents.

READ: Florida blogger registration bill ‘insane,’ Gingrich tweets

“For parents to decide what live performances or shows are appropriate for their own kids -- it’s not up to the government to censor what you’re doing,” he said.

Channel 9 reached out to Rep. Randy Fine, the sponsor of the bill, to comment on remarks made during Monday night’s meeting, but has not heard back.

READ: Florida’s 2023 legislative session: Lawmakers plan to tackle these 9 key issues

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.