Pentagon Announces No More Drag Shows on Military Bases

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
June 2, 2023Politicsshare
Pentagon Announces No More Drag Shows on Military Bases
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller Mike McCord testify before the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 5, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The Department of Defense has announced it would not permit drag performances at U.S. military facilities and installations.

“Per DoD Joint Ethics Regulation (JER), certain criteria must be met for persons or organizations acting in non-Federal capacity to use DOD facilities and equipment,” deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh said in an emailed statement. “As [Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin] has said, the DOD will not host drag events at U.S. military installations or facilities. Hosting these types of events in federally funded facilities is inconsistent with regulations regarding the use of DOD resources.”

Among the scheduled events upended by the DOD’s policy statement was a drag show at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada scheduled for Thursday, June 1. The Nellis Club on base had previously hosted a drag show event and had scheduled a drag performance this year that was advertised as “family friendly.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) claimed credit for the cancellation of the Nellis drag show event.

“HUGE VICTORY: The Department of Defense has CANCELED a scheduled ‘child-friendly’ drag show after I demanded answers from SecDef Austin and General Milley!” Gaetz wrote on Twitter Thursday.

Gaetz has repeatedly pressured the DOD to discontinue support for drag performances and reveal how much taxpayer funding has previously been used on such events.

During a March 29 congressional hearing, Gaetz read off a list of events involving drag performances on military bases. Austin responded that drag events are “not something that the Department of Defense supports or funds,” but Gaetz followed up by asking why the events were still taking place on military bases. While Austin continued to deny that the DOD was supporting the drag performances Gaetz listed, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said he would like to look into those past incidents “because I don’t agree with those, I think those things shouldn’t be happening.”

Gaetz cited his March 29 exchange with Austin and Milley in a May 23 letter (pdf) to the military leaders in which he called attention to the drag performance scheduled at Nellis Air Force base. He asked Austin and Milley whether the DOD had approved this latest drag event.

The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT advocacy organization, condemned the DOD for its latest decision to cancel the Nellis event, claiming that the Pentagon is “ceding to extremist forces focused on taking away our rights.”

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