Tom Daley
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Drag Queen Calls Out Ariz. GOP Candidate Kari Lake Over Hypocrisy

Kari Lake and drag queen Barbra Seville

One of Phoenix's most well-known drag queens has blasted comments made by the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Arizona governor, Kari Lake. 

Richard Stevens, who has been performing as Barbra Seville for more than 25 years, wrote on social media that Lake is a friend who has attended many drag shows over the years and even hired him to perform at a family event in her home.

"I've performed for Kari's birthday, I've performed in her home (with children present,) and I've performed for her at some of the seediest bars in Phoenix," Stevens wrote on Facebook.

He was responding to a tweet Lake sent Friday.

"They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens," Lake wrote. "They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow." 

In addition, she alleged drag queens are "grooming" children — a false accusation many conservative lawmakers and officials have made against LGBTQ+ people, claiming they sexually exploit children.

According to recent polls, Lake leads the field of GOP gubernatorial candidates in Arizona. The current governor, Republican Doug Ducey, cannot run again due to term limits.

Stevens posted a photo of Lake with him on a news set and Lake in drag and text screen shots. He says she attended countless drag shows and private parties during their friendship that lasted two decades.

Stevens, 49, told The Washington Post that Lake, a former journalist, started going to his shows with some of her newsroom colleagues in the late 1990s. 

He says Lake attended at least 15 or 20 of his shows since. 

In addition to performing drag at Lake's birthday party, Stevens says she hired him to act like Marilyn Monroe during a baby shower at her house. Lake introduced Stevens to her young daughter at the time.

"I didn't show up at her house as Marylyn Monroe," Stevens said, according to TV station KOLD. "I was contacted by her, I was compensated by her. She treated me like a friend until it became inconvenient."

KOLD confirmed that Lake did organize the baby shower held for anchor Yetta Gibson and that Stevens attended.

"At Arizona's Family, we believe in full transparency," the station wrote at the end of a story on Lake. "The event referenced in this story was at Arizona's Family anchor Yetta Gibson's baby shower that took place 12 years ago. Lake organized the shower, and Stevens was in attendance."

The Post reports that in December 2014, Lake posted a now-deleted photo to Instagram, tagging Stevens in the caption: "Half of what I know about makeup I learned from watching friends like @barbraseville." Someone removed the image after the Post contacted Lake's campaign Monday afternoon.

Lake was a television journalist at KSAZ in Phoenix for 22 years until she retired in 2021. Since running for governor, Lake, according to a recent tweet, believes journalists are the "enemy of the people."

The Republican candidate is the latest politician who has targeted the LGBTQ+ community in their politics.

Lawmakers in Texas are trying to ban kids from drag shows, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is considering a similar measure.

The LGBTQ+ community has been targeted by rhetoric and legislation resulting in violence and threats against its members in real-life settings. In Idaho, for example, 31 white supremacist Patriot Front members were arrested before they reached the Pride in the Park festival in Coeur d'Alene.

The Proud Boys recently harassed and attacked a drag queen story hour in California, while officials canceled a North Carolina event because of threats of violence

The Arizona primary election will take place three weeks from today.

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