Rainbows Festival looks to shed positive light on drag shows as performance becomes politicized

Drag queens are strutting their stuff in Phoenix at the Rainbows Festival. It's called a family friendly event, but comes as drag shows are being pulled into politics.

The two-day event down in Heritage Square in downtown is expecting 25,000 people to come through.

"Just a few blocks away at the state capitol, members of the Arizona legislature are trying to absolutely put a stop to drag performances and drag culture in this state," Jeremy Helfgot with Phoenix Pride said.

Image 1 of 2


Helfgot says with anti-drag bills popping up across the country this year, the Rainbows Festival is more than an event. It's a statement.

"Kids have been watching everything from Bugs Bunny to Mulan to Mrs. Doubtfire to Tootsie for generations. Drag performance has been around since the ancient Greeks created drama as we know it," he explained.

For those performing and hosting, this is an outlet for self-expression, and it's personal.

"My cousin is actually here with my niece and nephew. They’re seven and five, and they’re in the audience right now watching Ada perform. I’m fortunate to have that. My blood family is here with me, supporting me, loving me. Years ago that wasn’t the truth with some of my blood family," said Aimee V Justice, a performer.

For parents like Anya Behling, the opportunity to attend LGBTQ+ events with her daughter isn't something she takes for granted.

"I didn’t come out until later in life, and I didn’t have the support that I would have liked," she said. "I want her to know that no matter how she identifies and whoever she wants to be, that she is going to be loved, and ultimately she’ll always know love is love."

Image 1 of 2

Aimee V Justice