Key West drag performer 'Puddin’ Taine' speaks at the June 8 Key West city commission meeting in support of a resolution affirming Key West as a ‘welcoming city’ that acknowledges the creativity and community spirit of drag performers. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

Ya gotta love Key West, where four local drag performers spoke at the June 8 Key West city commission meeting, encouraging officials to approve a resolution sponsored by Commissioner Jimmy Weekley that affirmed Key West as a “welcoming city” for all. 

 “Given what’s going on in this state, I thought we needed to make a statement,” Weekley said when introducing the resolution. “Everyone has a right to be and live in this community as whoever they are. We are a safe haven for everyone, but it saddens me to know that people are leaving Florida because they don’t feel welcome.”

The resolution was drafted in response to a newly passed Florida bill that prohibits drag performances and drag performers from any place where children could see them. 

The resolution that ultimately passed unanimously, “affirms that the city of Key West continues to be a welcoming city, committed to ensuring the rights of residents and visitors, including drag queens, gender nonconforming, transgender, cisgender and all manner of humans to walk upon, and to use, public spaces while wearing attire of their own choosing (so long as it is in compliance with the city’s nudity ordinance and public health requirements; …  Acknowledging the drag community for elegance and originality, for their ability to unite the community and for boundless events and contributions benefiting the charitable causes of our city.”

Prior to the resolution’s approval, local drag performer “Puddin’ Taine” told the commission, “These are some scary and troubling times in Florida for people like me … to have the hate from Tallahassee trying to govern us down here; to be told that what I’m wearing, or what I do for a living is vulgar, well, please vote to keep Key West a safe space.”

Gary Marion, known worldwide as drag performer “Sushi,” told the commission, “You’re sending a message to all of Florida with this resolution, especially with what’s going on in Florida.”

Weekley’s resolution passed unanimously, despite some initial concern from Commissioner Lissette Cuervo-Carey, who said she agreed with everything in the resolution, except the part that criticized the state’s bill involving drag performers.

“Some of my constituents, as parents, agree with that bill,” Carey said. “We keep fighting the state on items that have already passed, but there are still residents who are proud of our state and who respect our governor.”

Commissioner Sam Kaufman acknowledged that Key West, as a welcoming city, has a responsibility, also, to affirm and welcome people with all beliefs, including those mentioned by Carey, who ended up voting in favor of the resolution.

More opposition to state actions

Another piece of legislation, sponsored by Commissioner Clayton Lopez and unanimously approved, opposes recent state legislatio, and urges Florida to rescind the bill that allows health care providers to refuse to provide health care services to people with whom the provider disagrees on the basis of “conscience-based objections.” Such medical services could include abortions, the prescribing of birth control pills, care for transgender individuals and other health care services.

“Giving a medical professional the option not to treat someone based on the providers’ personal or religious beliefs, to me, is immoral, like so much else that’s happening in Florida today,” Lopez said at the June 8 commission meeting.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.