With Pride season underway, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his band of bureaucrats cast a long, dark shadow over the festivities. Their stated goal: protecting children from drag queens.

In this week’s SFGN, online and on stands tomorrow, I look at how South Florida Prides are reacting to threats from the governor to ban drag queens and people in gender non-conforming outfits.

Tampa Pride is cutting the governor off at the pass by making all areas where liquor is served 18+. Threatening to revoke current or refuse future liquor licenses is a key point of leverage the state uses against LGBTQ+ businesses. They’ve launched several investigations into South Florida venues where children have been in the presence of drag queens.

Palm Beach Pride, which is the same weekend of Tampa Pride at the end of March, doesn’t get a liquor license, so they have an advantage. Compass produces the event, and Executive Director Julie Seaver was disgusted but not surprised to hear about the hard ball tactics being taken. Their parade marches through Lake Worth Beach and empties into Bryant Park. There will be drag queens in the parade and hosting on the main stage.

She told me, “Youth and allies must be at Pride. Drag queens must be at Pride,” and summed up the urgency of the situation saying, “My job is to keep kids and adults alive.”

Wilton Manors has more time to see how events unfold. Last month, city commissioners approved the permit for the annual Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival on June 17 without any restrictions, though they did briefly mention they want to avoid a confrontation with Republicans in Tallahassee. Last night, I asked Mayor Scott Newton if the city would consider modifying the permit if pressured by the state. He was definitive, saying, “Everyone’s welcome to come to our Stonewall, that’s what it’s all about, being open and free. That’s their right to come to the event. It’s a public event. I can’t stop someone from coming. Why would I say they couldn’t or pull a permit from it? No, I wouldn’t.”

We will continue to follow developments and attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, and you can read more of my story in this week’s SFGN.