Open in App
Business Insider

A Nevada Air Force base planned a drag show to celebrate Pride Month. Pentagon leaders said no.

By Rebecca Cohen,

Aircraft prepare for takeoff during a Red Flag exercise with the US Air Force at Nellis Air Force base in Las Vegas on Monday, August 11, 2008.
  • The Pentagon canceled a drag show scheduled for the first day of Pride Month at a Nevada Air Force base.
  • NBC first reported that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley shut the event down.
  • "Drag queen story hours is not something that the department funds," Austin said in March.

Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada had planned a June 1 drag show at the base to kick off Pride Month, but the Pentagon told them they can't host it.

Defense Department officials told the Air Force base their Thursday show couldn't take place, NBC News first reported, citing two defense officials and a US official.

NBC News reported that Air Force leaders first approved the drag show, but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shut it down.

A source familiar with the matter told NBC News that Austin and Milley told the Air Force that the Pentagon does not fund drag shows on their bases and that the show would either have to be canceled or moved to a new location.

"I can confirm the Nellis commander informed the private organization that the drag event would have to be canceled or relocated to an off-base location," a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.

"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," Sabrina Singh, Department of Defense deputy press secretary, said in a statement shared with Insider. "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 inconsistent with regulations regarding the use of DoD resources."

Singh added: "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.  Service members and their families are often involved in a host of special interest activities related to their personal hobbies, beliefs, and backgrounds."

Representatives for Nellis Air Force Base did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

The show was set to feature three Las Vegas-based drag queens: Lawanda Jackson , CoCo Montrese , and Carnie Asada , according to a flyer for the event . The flyer said the event was a "family-friendly show to celebrate the legacy of Stonewall and contributions of Drag to the LGBTQ+ community" and was open to all ages.

"Well we did try And we will continue to push forward. Drag is not a crime," Lawanda Jackson wrote on Facebook Thursday .

Montrese, in a statement to Insider, said she was "very excited to be asked to participate" and is "highly disappointed" that the show got canceled.

She also said the show was funded by private fundraisers, not by taxpayer dollars.

"They have made all of this political when indeed it is social," she said. "Now this whole subject is used as a distraction from what's really going on in our nation."

"Drag is an art form. There's no agenda other than entertainment and helping people get through hard times," she said.

Montrese added that "drag is empowering, uplifting, some funny, some serious, and for some it's therapy."

She said that for some people, it's about "finding the will" to get through "a hardship life has thrown their way."

Lawanda Jackson and Carnie Asada did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

Republican lawmakers have recently been up in arms about drag shows at military bases, with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz bringing Austin and Milley up to speed on the issue at a March 29 House Armed Services Committee.

"Drag queen story hours is not something that the department funds," Austin told the committee at the time, NBC News reported. Milley asked to see flyers of said events because he was not aware of them.

"I'd like to take a look at those because I don't agree with those," Milley said, according to NBC News.

According to a US official and a defense official who spoke to NBC News, Milley was "visibly angry" about Nellis Air Force Base's choice to hold a drag event on their campus.

"Consistent with Secretary Austin's congressional testimony, 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 NBC News when they asked about the scheduled event at the Nellis base.

As the news broke Wednesday, Gaetz celebrated the canceled show as a "huge victory" on Twitter.

Read the original article on Business Insider
Expand All
Comments / 0
Add a Comment

Comments / 0