A Key West drag performer is running to unseat a Republican in the Florida state legislature, where GOP lawmakers have spent the last couple of years pushing their blatantly anti-LGBTQ+ agenda under Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
As Florida Politics reports, Michael Elgin Travis has filed to challenge incumbent state Rep. Jim Mooney, a two-term Republican who represents Florida House District 120.
A ghost tour guide and bartender at Key West’s 801 Bourbon Bar, Travis also performs two nights each week in drag as Erika Rose at the Duval Street LGBTQ+ bar. If elected, Travis would be the first professional drag queen in the state’s legislature.
Travis said that he decided to run for office after traveling to Tallahassee along with hundreds of other drag performers and supporters in April to participate in a march and rally against Florida’s S.B. 1438. The law, which DeSantis signed in May, allows the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation to revoke the business licenses of any venues that allow minors to see “lewd” performances, even if their parents’ consent, as well as issue $5,000 and $10,000 fines against the business. Anyone who violates the law can be charged with a criminal misdemeanor. While the law does not specifically mention drag, it has been interpreted as targeting drag shows and performers, which anti-LGBTQ+ Republicans have characterized as “sexually explicit adult entertainment.”
A federal judge blocked the law from going into effect late last month, but S.B. 1438 is just one of the many laws aimed at limiting the rights of LGBTQ+ Floridians passed by the state legislature and signed by DeSantis in recent years. Travis also blasted the state’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law, which was recently expanded to ban discussion of LGBTQ+ topics at all grade levels in Florida schools. Travis called the law “nonsense.”
“That one drives me nuts,” he said.
The Key West Democrat faces an uphill battle in the race against Mooney. As Florida Politicsnotes, the incumbent won 60 percent of the vote against out Democrat Adam Gentle in the 2022 general election.
“Either way, I win,” Travis said of his prospects. “I’ll either win the election or inspire others and let them know they are valued.”