State agency threatens The Plaza Orlando’s license over drag show

(Photo from The Plaza Live’s Facebook)

ORLANDO | Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation sent a letter to the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation, the organization that operates The Plaza Live, threatening to revoke the venue’s license.

The threat came over the drag event “A Drag Queen Christmas” taking place at The Plaza Live Dec. 28.

“The Department has reason to believe that this drag show is of a sexual nature … The Department has also become aware that drag shows by Drag Fans have been marketed to and attended by minors, including young children,” the letter states. “Sexually explicit drag show performances constitute public nuisances, lewd activity, and disorderly conduct when minors are in attendance.”

The letter, signed by the secretary of DBPR, goes on to state that per Florida law, “strict penalties for licensees who allow minors to attend these drag shows at their licensed premises.”

“In short, if you allow children to attend the Drag Fans drag show at your facility, you are putting your license in jeopardy,” the letter concludes. “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. 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.”

A similar letter was sent to the James L. Knight Center in Miami, where the show took place Dec. 27.

Florida Rep. Anna V. Eskamani issued a statement over the DBPR’s letter, saying “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. It’s a waste of money, time and an attempt to create political outrage when none has existed before.”

Eskamani goes on to point out that this same show has played at The Plaza Live for the past eight years without incident.

“It’s clear that Governor DeSantis practices an ideology of convenience. He preaches parental rights and freedom only when it’s convenient to him. 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.”

“A Drag Queen Christmas” went on as planned with the disclaimer that the show is recommended for audiences 18 and up and that all minors attending must be accompanied by an adult.

Several protesters from both sides of the issue showed up before the show, with several of them speaking with local news WESH 2.

Opponents of the drag show said that it is exposing children to inappropriate situations.

“I don’t personally have a problem with there being a drag queen event in a rented venue for adults. They can do what they want. It’s the children,” one protester said.

Another protester took it further, comparing taking children to a drag show to taking them to a strip club.

Counter-protesters pointed to the DeSantis administration’s current argument that decisions about kids should be left to the parents.

“I think for a state that has put its heels in the dirt about parental rights they should focus on applying those rights across the board,” one counter-protester stated.

“A Drag Queen Christmas” next plays at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater tonight. The venue’s website states that the show “has adult themes and content. Admission is limited to patrons 18 years of age or over. Proof of age will be required.”

You can read the full letter sent to The Plaza Live here.

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