Pentagon cancels ‘family friendly’ drag show at Nevada Air Force base
By Katherine Donlevy,2023-06-01
The Pentagon ordered a Nevada Air Force base to shut down a drag show scheduled for Thursday — the first day of Pride Month, declaring such events are “not a suitable use” of federal funds and resources.
The Department of Defense on Wednesday directed the Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas to either cancel its drag performance, or to move it off military grounds.
“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,” Sabrina Singh, deputy press secretary, confirmed in an email.
The event — which was billed as a “family-friendly” showcase with no minimum age requirement — had been previously approved by Air Force officials.
The Nellis base has been hosting drag events since its historic “Drag-u-Nellis” show in June 2021.
Air Force officials defended the decision at the time, calling it “an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the history and significance of drag performance art within the LGBT+ community.”
The order to ax the event — which was scheduled to feature RuPaul’s Drag Race star CoCo Montrese — came down from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, insiders told NBC News.
US and defense insiders said Milley became visibly angry when he was informed earlier this week about the event.
“The Air Force will not host drag events at its installations or facilities. Commanders have been directed to either cancel or relocate these events to an off-base location,” an Air Force official told the outlet.
The scheduled Pride Month event was among six drag shows cited in a May 23 letter from Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz to both Millay and Austin to “further highlight the DoD’s pervasive and persistent use of taxpayer dollars for drag events.”
The far right politician said he provided the list in order to aid the Pentagon in “executing the agreed-upon elimination of DoD-funded drag events.”
Gaetz had grilled Millay and Austin two months earlier over whether drag performances and story hours were considered an appropriate use of taxpayer money, which Austin definitively agreed was not.
“Drag queen story hours is not something that the Department funds,” Austin said during the March 29 House Armed Services Committee hearing.
Milley added that he was unaware of the drag events, but said he doesn’t “agree with those.”