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Queens of the stage react to temporary victory stalling Florida's 'Anti-Drag Show' law

The entertainer known as Juniper Thorn shows off at a University Club drag show. "I love doing this," Thorn said. "At a certain point in my life, it made it a lot more livable and more meaningful." (Caitlyn Schiffer/WUFT News)
The entertainer known as Juniper Thorn shows off at a University Club drag show. "I love doing this," Thorn said. "At a certain point in my life, it made it a lot more livable and more meaningful." (Caitlyn Schiffer/WUFT News)

Daizy Haze confidently commands the stage, her cascading neon hair extending down to her waist. Once the spotlight fades, however, she seamlessly transitions back to Scott McKinnon, a merchandising manager at Five Below.

"Drag makes me feel like I'm somebody else," said Haze, using her stage name.

After discovering the show “RuPaul's Drag Race” in her early teens, Haze said she fell in love with the craft as a way to escape from reality.

Haze said her family’s religious and regional conventions forced her to conceal her true identity.

"Scott went through a lot in his life, so to have this persona where you just get to leave all of that behind you and be somebody else, it's amazing," Haze said, referring to herself by her male name.

A threat to that peace of mind was stalled on Nov. 16 when the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the enactment of a Florida law that punishes businesses that allow minors inside drag shows. 

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court rejected the enactment of the Protection of Children Act, which was filed by the Florida Senate in March and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May. Justices John G. Roberts, Jr., Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett M. Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson voted in the majority, with dissenting opinions by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

The Protection of Children Act, known by critics as "The Anti-Drag Show" law, was challenged by an Orlando restaurant that hosts what it describes as “family-friendly” drag shows.  

In May 2023, Hamburger Mary’s, a drag bar located in Orlando, filed a lawsuit against Florida’s new drag show law contending that it violates the First Amendment right of free speech. The restaurant said it has always marketed itself as a family restaurant. Parents and grandparents often attend shows with their children, and Hamburger Mary’s leaves it up to parents to determine whether a particular show is appropriate for the age of their child.

After Hamburger Mary’s owners sued the state in June 2023, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell adjudicated against the law, saying the law regarding live entertainment threatened a weekly event featuring drag queens.

The state of Florida further appealed to the Supreme Court to reinstate the law after the district attorney ruled against it. 

"We were all really angry because none of us are pedophiles," Jessa Belle, a drag entertainer, said.

Many individuals in the drag community, like Haze, have overcome challenging circumstances. Some argue that this law will negatively impact the lives of many in the LGBTQ+ community, saying the legislation instills even more fear into them, and confusion arises about the motive behind this bill.

People like Haze say they aspire to serve as supportive mentors for kids navigating challenges, aiming to provide them with a safe haven and a confidant, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Personally, I want any kid, straight, gay, bi, asexual, non-binary, anybody to feel they have somewhere to go, somebody that they can talk to, somebody who will love and accept them," Haze said.

Violating the law would be a first-degree misdemeanor, and businesses that do not adhere to the law could have their license suspended or revoked. They also could face fines starting at $5,000 for a first violation and an additional $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

Many drag shows are labeled as "family-friendly" when they permit children to attend with adults. Shows not intended for children explicitly state that the audience must be 18 years old and up.

“Be uncomfortable because we are uncomfortable," Belle recalled saying in her speech at the Tallahassee drag queen march on April 26, where hundreds of drag entertainers and LGBTQ+ community members rallied in solidarity at the Capitol.

The law will remain unenforced in the state until the Eleventh Circuit fully hears the case.

“To see that it got overturned, to me, was not necessarily a breath of fresh air. It was almost like you got your breath back," Haze said.

Juniper Thorn, 25, a transgender woman who performs at University Club, an LGBTQ+ bar in Gainesville, said she feels the Supreme Court’s injunction was monumental.

"It was definitely a win for our community. Ron DeSantis has not been kind to us at all," Thorn, whose legal name is Reed Scott, said. “It restored my faith in people to some extent."

Jorge Torres, a third-year English major at the University of Florida, said he was disappointed and shocked by Florida’s passage of the law as he hoped society was moving into a "new age."

As an avid drag showgoer, Torres said drag shows allow him to be more honest with his identity.

“Why is it now a problem?" Torres said. "The right party is really angry about how I guess that's celebrated and seen.”

"I'm a very feminine man, and just seeing a bunch of drag queens really helps embrace my own femininity and makes me feel more OK with being gay," Torres said.

Caitlyn is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing