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Pentagon Cancels Drag Show at Nevada Air Force Base Ahead of Pride Month

Pentagon Cancels Drag Show at Nevada Air Force Base Ahead of Pride Month

<p>Pentagon Cancels Drag Show at Nevada Air Force Base Ahead of Pride Month</p>

The move stands in opposition to the message of LGBTQ+ support the Biden Administration has been sending publicly.

On the eve of Pride Month and after President Joe Biden issued a proclamation celebrating June as such, it became known Wednesday evening that the Pentagon intervened in a local matter at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, canceling a pre-approved drag show scheduled for Thursday in support of LGBTQ+ Pride.

The order came from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Mark Milley; NBC News was the first to report. According to the news site, a drag show at the Air Force base had been approved to take place on Thursday to celebrate Pride Month, but the defense secretary intervened at the last minute.

A spokesperson for the Department of Defense sent The Advocate a statement in response to a request for comment.

“Per DoD Joint Ethics Regulation (JER), certain criteria must be met for persons or organizations acting in non-Federal capacity to use DoD facilities and equipment,” deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said in a statement. “As Secretary Austin has said, the DOD will not host drag events at U.S. military installations or facilities. Hosting these types of events in federally funded facilities is not a suitable use of DOD resources.”

The statement continues, “Our Service members are diverse and are allowed to have personal outlets. We are proud to serve alongside any and every young American who takes the oath that puts their life on the line in defense of our country.”

The Advocate asked what types of performances are suitable and whether the Department of Defense was aware of the Biden-Harris administration’s proclamation that criticized attacks on drag performances by conservatives. A Pentagon spokesperson declined to answer any questions.

The decision to cancel the drag show comes after Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz penned a letter on May 23 to Austin and Milley critical of the drag show.

“I find it completely unacceptable that DoD is using taxpayer dollars to fund DEI programs that are divisive in nature,” Gaetz wrote. “DoD resources should be used for mission-essential operations, not diverted toward initiatives that create cultural fissures within our service ranks.”

Multiple requests for comment to the White House were left unanswered.

Human Rights Campaign president Kelley Robinson denounced the Pentagon’s decision in a statement.

“Before today, Secretary Austin has been unwavering in his support for LGBTQ+ Americans who proudly serve in uniform,” Robinson wrote. “However, instead of truly standing up for our community on the first day of Pride, he chose to side with the politics of fear and discrimination peddled by extreme members of Congress.”

She continued, “For decades, our community has fought for our right to exist without shame or exception, yet the Secretary’s decision to ban an event that has happened in prior years reinforces false tropes about LGBTQ+ culture.”

Robinson concluded, “At a time when we are under attack, the Pentagon is ceding to extremist forces focused on taking away our rights – leaders responsible for national defense ought to do better. Our people deserve better, the United States military deserves better, and all Americans deserve better.”

In his Pride Month proclamation Wednesday, Biden wrote that the nation faces an “inflection point” regarding anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment.

“Homophobic and transphobic vitriol spewed online has spilled over into real life, as armed hate groups intimidate people at Pride marches and drag performances and threaten doctors’ offices and children’s hospitals that offer care to the LGBTQI+ community,” Biden said.

Republicans have cast drag queens and drag performances as inappropriate. They claim that exposing children to drag queens who read picture books to them is “sexualizing” them.

As a result, several state legislatures, including Tennessee, have introduced or passed legislation outlawing drag performances in public.

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