Tampa Bay drag fundraiser sends performers to Tallahassee

ABOVE: Tampa Bay drag performers and supporters in Tallahassee. Photo courtesy Ericka PC.

TAMPA | A fundraiser for local drag entertainers was held March 9 at City Side Lounge, raising $6,401 to assist in their costs to visit Tallahassee in protest of anti-LGBTQ legislation targeting their craft.

Republican state Rep. Randy Fine introduced House Bill 1423 March 3, filed as “Protection of Children.” Equality Florida deemed it “The Anti-Drag Bill” along with its companion Senate Bill 1438, advising lawmakers are targeting live performance art “to attack our drag community.”

“Live performance art, including drag, is a powerful form of freedom of expression that can educate, empower, and entertain,” the organization explains. “Florida law already prohibits exposing minors to shows considered sexually explicit or harmful, but this unnecessary bill expands state law to include vague language that can be used to attack our drag community.”

Drag entertainers including Tampa Bay’s Brianna Summers helped organize a “Heel No! We Won’t Go!” gathering in response. They gathered March 6 in Kissimmee and Riverview “to come together and educate ourselves on what is to come and be prepared to start the movement.”

The measure also prompted Aaron Perry Cruz, also known as performer Ericka PC, to organize a fundraiser to send entertainers from Tampa to Tallahassee in protest.

“I am organizing the event with the help of Brianna Summers, Angelique Young and the owners of City Side Lounge De & Michael,” Cruz told Watermark. “They immediately offered their space for the event in open arms.

“I started this fundraiser due to the current political climate we find ourselves in today,” they continued. “After what happened in Tennessee and now they are trying to pass similar bills here in Florida, it was important to me and all involved to stand up and take action to advocate for the queer/drag community in Tampa Bay.”

A total of 13 performers were featured March 9. Young and PC were joined by Mariah Taylor, Lilith Black, Jay Miah, Cleo Patra, Indya Snatch, Taniyah Iman, Sharon Cox, Russell X Mania, Matthew Riegel, Kc Starrz and Sade Erotica.

Cruz says with the community’s support, their efforts sent nine performers to the Capitol March 13. The entertainer was joined by Young, Summers, Black and Freya Rose, among others, with the funds allowing them to rent three hotel rooms and cover travel costs to carpool.

“It felt really good and we were very emotional and so proud of ourselves,” Cruz told Watermark from the Capitol.

Local entertainers plan to return to Tallahassee April 25 to stand in solidarity against anti-LGBTQ legislation. They are hoping to collectively raise $25,000 to assist with costs.

A St. Petersburg fundraiser for that purpose is currently among those planned, scheduled for April 9 at Mixers at Old Key West.  The initiative is being led by Summers and Lady Liemont.

“These fundraisers are being done all over the state,” Cruz says. “So we have Tampa, St. Pete, Orlando and other counties doing these fundraisers to get drag queens to Tallahassee.”

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