Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas shut down a drag show due to a Pentagon policy that prohibits the use of federal funds to host drag shows on U.S. military property. The event was initially billed to hold on Thursday.
— One America News (@OANN) June 1, 2023
While the organizers of the drag show at Nellis Air Force described it as an opportunity for attendees to learn about the history and significance of drag performance art within the LGBT+ community, it did not meet the criteria set by the Department of Defense’s Joint Ethics Regulation for non-federal entities to use military facilities and equipment.
At first, Air Force officials had approved the event, which was said to be “family-friendly,” as a way to kick off Pride Month. However, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, intervened and ordered the base to either cancel the show or move it off-site.
Austin has previously expressed support for Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ citizens who have fought to defend the country. However, during a hearing in March, he stated that drag shows are not something the Department of Defense supports or funds. General Milley, in the same hearing, expressed his disagreement with such events on military bases.
Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for the DoD, explained that hosting drag shows in federally funded facilities is not considered an appropriate use of Department of Defense resources. However, she emphasized that service members are allowed to have personal outlets.
The cancellation came a week after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) sent a letter to the Department of Defense officials, expressing concern about the use of taxpayer dollars to fund divisive programs like these drag events.
“DoD resources should be used for mission-essential operations, not diverted toward initiatives that create cultural fissures within our service ranks,” he wrote, as he pointed out that the department had signed off on other drag shows in other bases like Montana and Virginia.
Gaetz requested clarification on whether any punitive action had been taken or will be taken against individuals involved in organizing drag events with taxpayer funds by June 12. He found it completely unacceptable and wanted to hold the officials accountable.
In response to the cancellation, the representative took to Twitter, writing, “Drag shows should not be taking place on military installations with taxpayer dollars PERIOD!”
While Gaetz cheered the cancellation of the drag event at the Nellis Air Force Base, it remains to be seen whether any action will be taken regarding the other approved drag show events on military bases.