“I’m openly gay and have lived in Florida for nine years, and I’ve never once experienced overt homophobia,” writes River Page. (Illustration by The Free Press)

Stop Saying Florida Isn’t Safe for Gay People. It’s Fine.

My local haunt in Pensacola lets you smoke inside. Gay bars in New York will charge you 18 bucks for a gin and tonic. That’s real oppression.

Last weekend I got drunk at my local gay bar in Pensacola, Florida. Inside, some drag queens were hosting a “hot body” contest; the title went to a roided-out white guy, or so I heard. The room was so crowded, I fled outside. There, I heard a lot of gossip about one acquaintance getting strung along by another—plus a variety of opinions on the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Over cheap drinks and endless cigarettes, a million gay proclamations were made over a million gay subjects, but never once was the name Ron DeSantis uttered. As the night marched on and the crowd marched out, Grindr notifications chirped alongside the crickets underneath the patio. It was Friday night at a Florida gay bar and the only thing people were afraid of was going home alone. 

This is what gay life in Florida is actually like. But the chasm between reality and the media narrative is so wide I suspect we’ll soon hear that Republicans want to throw drag queens down it.

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