FORT WALTON BEACH, FLORIDA — Another event featuring cross-dressing men marketed as appropriate for children took place this past weekend on the Emerald Coast.
The Sound Café + Enlightened Studios in Fort Walton Beach hosted “Pokémon Drag Brunch” on Sunday, promoting it as “All Ages Welcome.”
The venue regularly hosts events with cross-dressing men and often encourages guests of any age to join. Drag events open to children have been promoted on the venue’s social media channels since at least 2021.
“Nearly all of [the children in attendance] dressed up as Pokémon and had an amazing time with their family in a safe space enjoying a show that was very much PG rated,” Cole Huffer, owner of The Sound Café + Enlightened Studios, said.
“We feel that if the parent would like to bring their children to one of these events, that is their choice on what they decide to expose their children to,” Huffer told The Florida Standard. “We treat drag shows just as we treat our [other events] … as an opportunity for individuals and families to be entertained by members of the community, who are simply sharing their passion. To us, these are all forms of art.”
Huffer says roughly 60 people attended Sunday’s event, including at least four parents with children.
When asked about SB 1438 – which would prohibit businesses from permitting entry to “adult live performances” for anyone under 18 – Huffer said he would comply with “any law put into place that would conflict with any current rules and regulations.”
DRAG SHOWS FOR KIDS MAY SOON BE ILLEGAL
Drag shows – long considered deviant, adult entertainment – are now frequently advertised to children. Conservatives and many moderates across the country are outraged by the shift in public mores. Those who think children should be exposed to drag shows are often called “groomers” due to concerns that the sexualized performances can make minors more vulnerable to predators.
In Florida, the state has deemed the new trend unacceptable. The DeSantis administration moved to revoke the liquor licenses of multiple venues that hosted similar events in 2022.
A new bill advancing in the Florida Senate would give the state permission to revoke licenses of businesses that admit children to “adult live performances.” A violation of the prohibition contained in SB 1438 would be a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of one year in prison and a fine up to $1,000.