In jab at DeSantis, Florida Democrats cap fundraising dinner with raucous drag show
MIAMI BEACH — The speeches were done, the politicians were off the stage, but the night wasn’t over for Florida Democrats.
Party Chair Nikki Fried feigned surprise when the lights went out Saturday night. But the show was just getting started.
For the finale of the Florida Democratic Party’s annual Leadership Blue conference and fundraiser, Fried arranged for an appearance by drag queen Velvet Lenore, who performed several numbers along with her backup dancers.
The audience, Democratic activists and elected officials from throughout the state, erupted in applause.
LeNore, 51, who lives in West Palm Beach said she was happy to receive and accept the invitation to perform for the political audience. She normally appears at Lips Fort Lauderdale, which describes itself as the “ultimate in drag dining,” and the Pub on the Drive, a bar in Wilton Manors.
Drag, her full time profession, has become a flashpoint in escalation of culture war issues emphasized by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republicans in the Florida Legislature. They’ve asserted that drag is harmful for children, and the DeSantis administration has sought to punish liquor license holders that have held drag shows with children in attendance.
In a shot at ?@RonDeSantis? drag queen Velvet LeNore at the conclusion of ?@FlaDems? Leadership Blue fundraising dinner in Miami Beach. DeSantis and Republicans are “trying to say drag is a crime, and it’s not,” LeNore said. pic.twitter.com/MAOEshsPls
— Anthony Man (@browardpolitics) July 9, 2023
“They’re (DeSantis and the Republicans) trying to say drag is a crime, and it’s not,” LeNore said.
The finale choice was intended as a political and cultural statement, Fried said afterward, and also as a way to keep giving the 700 Democrats at the dinner an energy-filled sendoff after a day of conferences and speeches at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
Earlier in the evening, between speeches, there was a performance by Black dancers and a performance of salsa dancing.
Fried was elected Democratic Party chair earlier this year and said she wanted Leadership Blue to be something different from the usual hours of speeches from candidates and elected officials.
And, Fried said, the entertainment was designed to counter what she said are Republicans attempts to “erase the culture, the history of the state.”
Besides the performances, the keynote speaker was actor Bradley Whitford, who delivered a blistering speech that mocked DeSantis, his policies and his presidential candidacy, and warned that he poses a threat.
Anthony Man can be reached at moc.lenitnesnus@nama, on Twitter @browardpolitics and on Post.news/@browardpolitics.