In the 1960s, Darcel Stevens' parents fought in the Civil Rights Movement. More than six decades later, Stevens says he’s fighting for those same rights. And more.
This profile is a part of our series The DeSantis Defiers - Meet the 5 LGBT Activists Giving the Governor Hell. Read more here.
“They took to the streets, knowing that they pretty much couldn't change the outcome,” he says. “But they could change hearts and minds. And eventually, civil rights will come about.”
The 30-year Orlando resident worked to organize the 2023 Drag Queen March, where over 500 drag queens met at the state Capitol to protest anti-drag legislation. The goal was to show wide support for the LGBT community and get people to the polls.
The legislation prohibits parents from bringing their children to drag shows. Stevens argues anti-drag and other recent legislation are targeting a wide variety of marginalized communities.
“It seemed like all the rights which we as LGBTQ, and as black African Americans, had achieved were easily being eroded by their governor and his super majority,” he said.
Stevens testified before the Florida Legislature against the bill, asking members if parents who bring their children to drag events would be charged. Ultimately, the facility would be held at fault instead of the parents. Stevens deemed this hypocritical and problematic.
“That's such a double standard. You can bring that kid to a Harry Styles concert. You can bring that kid to play. You can bring that kid to a movie. There are no repercussions on the movie theater owner or the venue owner, it is particularly geared towards drag queens or establishments that support drag,” he said.
Now, Stevens is working to raise voting rates by any means necessary. Raising money to provide Uber rides to polling locations, plan rallies, and partnering with pro-LGBT organizations and legislatures are all part of his initiatives.
“We're not leaving anything to chance. We want to know if you are registered as a Democrat, and even registered as a Republican or you want to stand for LGBTQ rights, and you want to stand for civil rights, then that's an option,” he said.
Stevens warned elected officials and public figures who support anti-LGBT legislation that him and his peers will put full effort into ruining their chances of re-election. He believes voting is the strongest way to effect change and protect marginalized communities.
“It's all about voting. All of those things can be rectified and be addressed if we get the right people with the right legislative makeup. But if we hold fast to what we think is important and fail not to vote, and to follow through, then we're screwed. So the common denominator is those three elements, knowing your status, knowing where to vote, and then making preparations and plans to vote,” he said.
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