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Puerto Rico advocacy group moves Pride month event after venue bans drag queens

A Puerto Rican LGBTQ advocacy group has moved a Pride month event from a popular entertainment venue after its owners refused to allow drag queens and a Drag Queen Story Hour.

Waves Ahead’s Express Yourself Glitter Pride event was to have taken place at Distrito T-Mobile adjacent to the San Juan Convention Center on Saturday.

Waves Ahead Executive Director Wilfred Labiosa this week during a telephone interview with the Washington Blade said his organization last year “did this event the same way” at the same venue with a Drag Queen Story Hour.

“Last year we were approached by the owners and the administration of Distrito to do a Pride event there for the first time,” said Labiosa.

Labiosa told the Blade that Distrito T-Mobile contacted Waves Ahead in February and asked if it could host the same event this year. Labiosa said he told Distrito T-Mobile the event is “the same one as last year.”

“They said yes, exactly the same. Don’t do any changes,” said Labiosa.

Labiosa said Distrito T-Mobile’s owners on June 11 called him and asked him about the Drag Queen Story Hour that was scheduled to be part of the event. Labiosa said he told them to “talk to your administrators because they have the schedule and everything is there with all the details and so forth.”

Distrito T-Mobile’s owners later told Metro Puerto Rico the event “will continue without drag queens as hosts and without Drag Queen Story Hour.” The newspaper published the article hours after Sen. Joanne Rodríguez Veve of Proyecto Dignidad, an anti-LGBTQ political party, criticized the event on social media.

“Let kids be kids,” she said in a post that contained the event’s flyer.

Labiosa spoke with Distrito T-Mobile’s owners on Monday after Metro Puerto Rico published the article.

“I said this is unacceptable, that the news told me that we are not having this event as scheduled,” Labiosa said. “[The owners] said no, you cannot have this, you cannot have that. You can only the three musical bands and that’s it, and we said that’s discrimination against segments of our community that are so rich and so important to us and to all the movement. They said, well take it or leave it and I said no.”

Labiosa said the owners called him back and said the event could have a 10-minute segment with a “potpourri of drag queens performing one song after 10 p.m. without books or anything else.”

“I said, well, sorry, no,” Labiosa told the Blade.

Labiosa said Waves Ahead decided to move the event to their San Juan community center. It will take place there on Saturday from 1-9 p.m.

“We’re going to have all the components,” he said.

Amnesty International, the National LGBTQ Task Force, the Hispanic Federation and Centerlink are among the groups that have expressed solidarity with Waves Ahead.

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