With drag shows and performers under attack around the nation, the LGBTQ-friendly city of Palm Springs, Calif., has taken a stand for them.
Greater Palm Springs Pride has announced that the theme for Pride Week, to be held in November, will be “Drag Now. Drag Forever,” and that the city will be a sanctuary for drag and all forms of self-expression.
“Greater Palm Springs Pride declares Palm Springs, the Mother Church for Drag in the Coachella Valley, supports drag queens, kings, drag mothers, and baby queens regardless of their realness, flawlessness, disheveled presentation, or fierceness,” reads a press release from the group. “Drag is not a crime. Drag is art. Drag is entertainment and has existed for hundreds of years and is part of everyday life.”
“‘Drag Now. Drag Forever’ is a theme that calls on the community to unite and support the drag community,” Palm Springs Pride President and CEO Ron deHarte said in the release, issued Tuesday along with a proclamation. “Drag is not a crime. Our country has a rich history of drag as an artistic expression, standard of activism, and the backbone of fundraising in the community. We call on everyone to support the drag community and fight all anti-LGBTQ+ bills that threaten the freedom and equality of all.”
“Facing a legislative landscape of increased attacks on members of the LGBTQ+ community coupled with physical violence, we must gather to support one another and be unified against fear and intimidation,” he added. “The fight for freedom continues.”
In 2022, there were 141 documented protests and threats against drag events in the U.S. This year, Tennessee passed a law restricting drag performances, the first state to do so; it is temporarily blocked by court action. Anti-drag bills have been introduced in at least 14 other states.
Palm Springs joins other California cities, including West Hollywood and San Francisco, in supporting drag performances.
The primary Palm Springs Pride activities, including a parade and festival, will be held November 3-5 in the city’s downtown area. It will be the 37th annual celebration. Pride Week is the largest annual event in Palm Springs and the largest multiday gathering of LGBTQ+ people in Southern California’s Coachella Valley. In 2022, official Pride Week events attracted 200,000 attendees and generated a $38 million direct economic impact for area hotels, shops, restaurants, and other local businesses, according to the release.