According to the ACLU , almost 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced nationwide in the 2023 legislative session, and 63 have been signed into law.
Here in Western New York, drag performers tell 7 News Reporter Jaurdyn Johnson that they have heard from people in other states needing to move to more inclusive states.
Drag performer Damsel N' Disdress, who has been performing for almost three years, says her friends are also moving to more LGBTQ+-friendly states.
"I see people wanting to move from Florida or somewhere else, and it's so disheartening to see because drag is just art," said Damsel.
Another drag performer Freddie Hercury says he wants people to see drag performances as a work of love.
"Sometimes it is intimidating to be around drag, so just know that we are human," said Hercury.
GLYS, a resource center for LGBTQ+ youth, Executive Director Jack Kavanaugh says the anti-LGBTQ+ bills that have been passed are not only hurting performers like Freddie or Damsel; it hurts the young kids who are a part of the community.
"Drag has historically been an art form about expressing oneself about the beauty, joy, and grace you may not do in your everyday life. When you don't have access to people who can show you how to do that as a young person, it can hurt their self-esteem," said Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh says being out and proud here in Western New York is vital for LGBTQ+ youth to witness.
"When we have the strength in the community, the youth must see and be a part of that so they can see other people fighting for them and standing up for them, and I think that's very valuable to see here," said Kavanaugh.