Pride organizers cancel events all over Florida due to 'climate of fear' after state passes anti-LGBTQ laws
Pride events across Florida are being canceled after DeSantis signs anti-LGBTQ bills into law.
In St. Cloud, organizers canceled an event after performers said they didn't feel safe attending.
LGBTQ advocates say the Florida legislation is "dehumanizing" members of the queer community.
Pride events may have less to celebrate next month in states where lawmakers have passed anti-queer and anti-trans legislation.
Organizers in Florida have already canceled several pride events, saying the state's targeting of LGBTQ people has created a "climate of fear and hostility."
In St. Cloud, which is just outside of Orlando, organizers canceled a June 10 event — which would have included a food market and a drag queen show — because they said circumstances made it "unsafe" to proceed.
"Florida has recently passed a number of laws that target the LGBTQIA+ community. These laws have created a climate of fear and hostility for LGBTQIA+ people in Florida. We believe that holding an LGBTQIA+ event in this environment would put our community at risk," the organizers said on Facebook.
The decision came after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that assigns penalties for any business that allows children to see any "adult live performance" that might demonstrate sexually explicit content even if they're accompanied by a parent. While those who favor the laws insist they are to protect children, those who oppose them say they were made intentionally vague to target drag performers.
Florida has become a center for anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. The state has seen book bans, limits on discussions of sex and gender in schools, restrictions on restroom usage for trans people, and restrictions on healthcare for trans youth. Advocacy groups have now warned members of the community to avoid traveling to the state.
Kristina Bozanich and Brenda Torres, who organized the event in St. Cloud, told local NBC affiliate WESH that they initially tried to comply with the restrictions on their event, which featured a drag show near the end of its schedule. They decided only people 18 and older would be able to attend that part of the event.
"But even after discussing with entertainment, the drag queens did not feel it would be safe for them to perform," Bozanich told WESH.
Then, in nearby Lake Nona last week, someone managed to hack an electronic road sign, writing the words "kill all gays." Bozanich called the news "very alarming."
"We did not have the funds to be able to provide that high level of security to ensure safety if there were some sort of extreme act," Bozanich said.
Pride organizers in Florida have also canceled events in Tampa, Port St. Lucie, and Lake County, local news station Click Orlando reported.
"It's dehumanizing the people that we work with, that we live with, that are part of our community," Torres told WESH. "It's a very sad moment when these unfortunate things happen because we're just creating more room for hate."
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