Billy Porter has a defiant message for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R): “We’re here, we’re queer… get over it!”
The Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award-winning actor, director, and activist threw down the gauntlet last Thursday at the Stonewall National Museum, Archives, and Library’s “Back to the Drive Celebration.” The event was a fundraiser for the Stonewall National Education Project, which advocates for LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and curricula in schools nationwide.
DeSantis will soon wake up to the reality that he’s going to lose.
Porter was a special guest at the event, where it was announced that he would be the latest addition to the Stonewall National Museum, Archives, and Library’s “Standing on the Shoulders of Heroes” exhibit, opening soon at the City College of New York.
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“I’m here because I’m queer. I’m Black first. I’m queer and there’s a lot of stuff going on right now that is trying to erase our humanity and existence as queer people, and the answer is no,” Porter told local NBC affiliate NBC6 at the event.
“I’ve been an activist for as long as I can remember, and so I’m here in that capacity, to speak truth to power,” he continued. “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it and get over it. We’re not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere, ever.”
Porter took the opportunity of being in Florida to address DeSantis’s anti-LGBTQ+ agenda directly, singing “Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay,” in symbolic defiance of the state’s “Parental Rights in Education Act.” Signed by DeSantis last year, the law, commonly known as “Don’t Say Gay,” bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida’s public schools.
“Yes, we will always say gay,” Porter added. “I don’t know what it is that [DeSantis is] trying to do, but it will never work. Because he has to meet me. Bring it!”
In addition to signing the “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law and creating a template for anti-LGBTQ+ laws across the country, DeSantis has also signed a slate of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. In 2021, he signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, banning transgender girls and women from participating girls’ and women’s sports in middle school through college. In May 2023, he signed five bills, including one banning gender-affirming care for minors and making it more difficult for trans adults to get care. Another made it illegal for anyone in the state to use a bathroom or other facility that does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. An anti-drag law aimed at allowing the state to revoke the business licenses of any venues that allow minors to see drag performances was blocked by a federal judge.
DeSantis also signed Florida’s “Stop W.O.K.E. Act,” which has had a devastating impact on teachers’ ability to discuss Black history in schools.
This spring, DeSantis announced his bid to become the 2024 Republican presidential nominee. He has struggled to connect with voters outside of Florida, however. Recent polling shows DeSantis trailing former President Donald Trump by double-digits in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, where the first Republican primary elections will be held in early 2024.