Palm Springs Pride has designated the theme for 2023 Pride Week as “Drag Now. Drag Forever.”
Organizers said the move is a way to take a stand against anti-drag bills that have been proposed or passed around the country and the increase in anti-LGBTQ+ extremism as well as an effort to support the historic form of artistic expression and advocacy.
Greater Palm Springs also issued a declaration saying that the city will be a sanctuary for drag and all forms of self-expression.
“Greater Palm Springs Pride declares Palm Springs, the Mother Church for Drag in the Coachella Valley, supports drag queens, kings, drag mothers, and baby queens regardless of their realness, flawlessness, disheveled presentation, or fierceness,” Palms Springs Pride said in a press release. “Drag is not a crime. Drag is art. Drag is entertainment and has existed for hundreds of years and is part of everyday life.”
For example, William Dorsey Swann, known to his friends as “the Queen,” reigned over a secret world of drag balls in Washington, D.C., in the 1880s, and is the first known person to dub himself a “queen of drag” or drag queen.
Drag under attack
Palm Springs Pride President and CEO Ron deHarte said the “Drag Now. Drag Forever” theme is a call-to-action for the community to unite and support the drag community.
“Drag is not a crime. Our country has a rich history of drag as an artistic expression, standard of activism, and the backbone of fundraising in the community,” deHarte said in the release. “We call on everyone to support the drag community and fight all anti-LGBTQ+ bills that threaten the freedom and equality of all.”
“Facing a legislative landscape of increased attacks on members of the LGBTQ+ community coupled with physical violence, we must gather to support one another and be unified against fear and intimidation,” he said. “The fight for freedom continues.”
In 2022, 141 documented protests and threats were documented against drag events in the U.S.
This year, Tennessee became the first state to pass a law restricting drag performances, but it’s been temporarily blocked by a federal judge after a theater group sued the state.
Anti-drag bills have been introduced in 14 other states.
Palm Springs joins other California cities, including West Hollywood and San Francisco, in supporting drag performances.
Palm Springs Pride
Pride Week is the largest annual event in Palm Springs and the largest multi-day gathering of LGBTQ+ people in the Coachella Valley.
This year will be the 37th annual celebration.
The Palm Springs Pride Parade and Festival will return to the city’s downtown and feature multiple stages of live entertainment and an exhibitor marketplace.
It will take place from Nov. 3 to 5.
In 2022, official Pride Week events attracted 200,000 attendees and generated $38 million in direct economic impact for area hotels, shops, restaurants, and other local businesses, according to the press release.