Stonewall Pride Rules Coming Into Focus

Stonewall Pride 2022. Photo by JR Davis.

“They’ve banned drag!” “Pride is more like shame!” “We’ve been betrayed by our leaders!”

Emotions have been running strong since a vague, potentially devastating new law went into effect in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis and his GOP super majority wrote a law that seems to skirt the first amendment and ban all public drag.

It now appears much of the hysteria and hyperbolic rhetoric may be overblown.

‘There Is No Ban On Drag’

To be sure, the situation is perilous. No one really knows how the law will be interpreted and enforced. As the first major LGBTQ event in Florida since the law passed, Stonewall Pride and host city Wilton Manors are about to be the legal guinea pig.

Stonewall CEO Jeff Sterling is in charge of the event, and speculation about his intentions has run the gamut. He plans to present details of a “Code of Conduct” to vendors and businesses next week, but has given OUTSFL an idea of what to expect at the June 17 event.

“There will be a code of conduct, and a dress code is just a part of that,” he told OUTSFL. 

While an initial reading of the law had many believing there would be no drag anywhere at Stonewall, Sterling is setting the record straight. The code of conduct and dress code will only be applied to people in the parade, on public stages, and vendors. 

“Those are people who choose to be in their positions.”

Even in those spaces, drag queens will be allowed. Sterling said the dress code will be for all participants and will require full speedos, a bit more than a thong or what would be acceptable even at a public beach. Females, or female presenting, must have prosthetics covered at all times, so no plunging dresses. He also says pasties will not be a way to skirt the code. That said, drag entertainment may be booked at some of the stages up and down Wilton Drive.

“There is no ban on drag. Everyone is welcome, and we mean it.”

The code of conduct will also stipulate that any public entertainment must avoid lewd innuendo or gestures. Sterling says these rules have been in place for years, but not enforced. This year will see enforcement because it’s believed DeSantis’ minions will be in the crowd, looking for a “Gotcha!” moment.

High Stakes

The new law is intentionally vague, and could be wielded like a blunt instrument by DeSantis. Even before the law, he was using code enforcement to revoke liquor licenses of establishments that hosted public drag entertainment.

Now city employees and elected officials could be removed by the governor’s office and replaced by people who don’t share the same vision of openness and inclusion. While everyone is upset at the situation, Sterling says it’s important that the community lives to fight another day. 

“My number one overriding goal is to protect this event so we can hype it in the future.”

Sterling is known for keeping a low profile and his get-the-work-done attitude. But this year has seen immense interest in Wilton Manors and Stonewall. So while he prefers to remain behind the scenes, Sterling believes the national attention will bring new allies. 

“We’ve never had so much press. I’m hoping we get some good out of this.”

Unplanned Protests

It is possible that an unplanned group could emerge from the crowd during the parade or try to rush a stage. Sterling said he’ll deal with situations as they happen and protestors will, at a minimum, be asked to leave. 

“I don’t expect a problem. There are five to six thousand people working on the event. Of those people, easily 99% want to be there.”

As for a less raucous Pride, Sterling says it’s a step the community needs to take. 

“Pride itself needs to be elevated so we don’t stand there with hands over the eyes of a child.”


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



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