Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas canceled an all-ages drag show scheduled for Thursday after officials pointed to a Pentagon policy prohibiting using federal funds to host drag shows on U.S. military property.
Air Force officials initially approved the event to kick off Pride Month until Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Mark Milley, ordered the base to cancel or relocate the show off-site.
“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,” spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told NBC. “As Secretary 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 not a suitable use of DOD resources,” she added. “Our Service members are diverse and are allowed to have personal outlets.”
The show was reportedly billed as “family-friendly” with no minimum age requirement. They have been hosting drag performances at the base since its historic “Drag-u-Nellis” show in June 2021, according to the New York Post.
Organizers described the event as “an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the history and significance of drag performance art within the LGBT+ community.”
Austin, who has previously said the military supports Pride Month and the “LGBTQ+” citizens that fought to defend the U.S. since its foundation, told a House Armed Services Committee in March that “drag shows are not something the Defense Department supports or funds.”
During the same hearing, Milley said he would look into such events on military bases to “find out what actually is going on there” while claiming he doesn’t condone such shows.
“I’d like to take a look at those because I don’t agree with those,” he said, according to CNN. “I think those things shouldn’t be happening.”
In a letter to both Department of Defense officials, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said that the U.S. military had approved six other drag show events occurring on different bases in Montana, Virginia, and overseas at the Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
“I find it completely unacceptable that DoD is using taxpayer dollars to fund DEI programs that are divisive in nature,” Gaetz wrote. “DoD resources should be used for mission-essential operations, not diverted toward initiatives that create cultural fissures within our service ranks.”
Gaetz asked U.S. officials to clarify if any punitive action has or will be taken against individuals who facilitated drag events with taxpayer dollars by June 12.