Republican governor Ron DeSantis has filed a complaint against a Miami restaurant after a video showed kids at a drag brunch event.
The Florida governor spoke about the video – which sees a child walking with a drag artist – at a Wednesday (27 July) news conference, saying that an investigation by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation was conducted.
“They actually had agents going to this place and effectively just gathering information, getting intelligence, seeing what’s going on,” he said. “And what they found was not only were there minors there, the bar had a children’s menu. And you think to yourself, ‘Give me a break, what’s going on?’”
An administrative complaint accusing the restaurant of disorderly conduct was filed by the department on Tuesday (26 July), with reports that NBC Newshad obtained the complaint on Thursday (28 July). According to a tweet by activist Erin Reed, the complaint referenced a 1947 ruling that “men impersonating women in a suggestive fashion” is against the law.
“They are building the framework to go after all drag, and likely all trans people,” Erin continues in her tweet.
Clinical instructor Alejandra Caraballo also tweeted saying that the complaint was “setting the stage” for the revitalisation of “anti-‘crossdressing’ laws”.
“This is the foundation to target all visibly trans and queer people in Florida and use the state to enforce rigid gender norms,” she continued.
The complaint reportedly says that the video shows “what appears to be a transgender dancer” walking with a young girl around the restaurant while wearing a “‘g-string’-style bikini bottom”. The complaint also uses he/him pronouns despite saying that the dancer was “female in appearance”.
The original clip was posted on TikTok but had been shared by the notorious Twitter account LibsofTikTok which often shares videos ridiculing LGBTQ+ teachers and other marginalised groups. Those who are targeted by the account often receive an influx of death threats and harassment.
The Washington Post released an exposé on 19 April revealing the account owner to be Chaya Raichik, who attended the Capitol insurrection in January 2021. Reports later in the month suggested that Raichik had a long-running online friendship with Desantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw around a month after he signed Florida state’s hateful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation.
Since then, Ron DeSantis has turned his sights onto drag performances after Texas lawmakers planned to ban kids from attending drag shows on 6 June. The Florida politician then proposed a similar bill and also suggested that parents who take their kids to drag shows could be investigated.
During an 8 June news conference, he said that he had asked staff to look into a proposal, characterising drag as “really, really disturbing” and “inappropriate” for children to be at the show.
“We’re going to look to see what can be done under existing statutes, but I do think targeting these kids with all this stuff,” he said. “It used to be kids would be off-limits, used to be everybody agreed with that. And now, it just seems like there’s a concerted effort to be exposing kids more and more to things that are not age-appropriate. I think our state, Florida, we need to be a family-friendly state.”