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White House says it wasn’t behind Pentagon decision to cancel drag shows

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The White House said on Monday it wasn’t behind a Defense Department decision to cancel drag events at US military bases.

Late last week, DoD announced that drag events, which have been performed at US military installations for decades, wouldn’t continue because they aren’t a “suitable use” of military resources.

The Pentagon said in a statement that “certain criteria must be met for persons or organizations acting in nonfederal capacity.”

Biden administration press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Monday at a press conference that the White House supports LGBTQ+ members of the military.

“The Biden-Harris administration will celebrate LGBTQI plus service members’ contributions with pride across federal agencies, including at the Department of Defense,” she said.

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The Pentagon decision has already led to the cancellation of at least one planned drag show, a family-friendly event at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada featuring performer Coco Montrese, a former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The base has hosted drag events in 2021 and 2022, planned by the facility’s Pride committee.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday on CNN canceling the events was the “absolute right thing to do” and said drag events “were never part of DOD policy to begin with and they’re certainly not funded by federal funds.”

Capitol Hill Republicans questioned Mr Milley and other military leaders in March at a House Armed Services Committee hearing in March, and have since raised inquiries about potential funds going to such events.

US military members have performed in drag at bases since at least World War I, including during the famed USO shows of WWII, according to the New York Times

“Ensuring our ranks reflect the diversity of the American people is essential to morale and cohesion,” the Modern Military Association of America, a nonprofit representing LGBTQ+ servicemembers, told the paper. “It affects recruiting and retention of service members who do not feel welcome due to their sexual and gender identities.”

Across the country, Republican-led legislatures have passed laws targeting drag shows, and drag events have been the subject of armed threats, part of a wider wave of GOP attacks on LGBTQ+ people.

Source: Independent

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