In a detailed statement released Sunday, gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake’s campaign said the frontrunner is filing a defamation lawsuit against Rick Stevens, a former friend of Lake’s who is a professional drag queen in Arizona.
Stevens – whose stage name is Barbara Seville – posted several messages on his social media channels criticizing Lake for her concerns about sexualized drag queen performances in front of children.
The Arizona legislature is working on legislation to prohibit children under age 18 from attending drag shows, which Lake supports.
Lake tweeted criticism of a video of a scantily dressed drag queen dancing provocatively for young children in Dallas, stating, “This is grooming. This is child abuse.”
Let's make this abundantly clear.
This is grooming. This is child abuse.
Maybe that's acceptable in Dallas, Texas.
— Kari Lake War Room (@KariLakeWarRoom) June 4, 2022
On June 17, Lake tweeted, “They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens. They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow. They seek to disarm Americans and militarize our Enemies. Let’s bring back the basics: God, Guns & Glory.”
They kicked God out of schools and welcomed the Drag Queens.
They took down our Flag and replaced it with a rainbow.
They seek to disarm Americans and militarize our Enemies.
Let’s bring back the basics:
God, Guns & Glory. 🇺🇸
— Kari Lake for AZ Governor (@KariLake) June 18, 2022
Stevens reacted to Lake’s statements with a series of posts on Facebook and Twitter which said he was a former friend of Lake’s but now finds her “a complete hypocrite.” He said in a Facebook post that he’d performed for her birthday and even performed at her home with her children present. Channel 12 reporter Brahm Resnik – who Lake famously confronted on camera for not saying the Pledge of Allegiance – tweeted the post and the mainstream media picked it up.
Stevens posted images from the past involving Lake, including a photo of them standing together with Lake dressed as an Elvis impersonator, and a screenshot of a post Lake apparently made on social media trying to help him find a place to live. On Saturday, he posted a cryptic meme that said “Don’t f**k with drag queens: The hunt to unmask a hypocrite.” He went on to post private conversations between the two on Twitter from 2018.
Lake’s campaign responded that the “accusations were full of lies. The event in question was a party at someone’s house, and the performer was there as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. It wasn’t a drag show, and the issue we’re talking about isn’t adults attending drag shows, either. It’s activists sexualizing young children, and that’s got to stop.”
The statement added, “Stevens has been radicalized in recent years and has called for the death of a sitting GOP Congresswoman and has actively campaigned for Katie Hobbs.” Hobbs is the Democrats’ main candidate running for governor against Lake.
The Lake campaign’s statement noted, “Like most sane people, Kari Lake is very much opposed to grown men or women dancing provocatively for children, especially at the expense of the taxpayer. Why would anyone be opposed to this?”
The campaign stated, “Kari Lake is serving Mr. Stevens a defamation lawsuit;” and warned, “We encourage these outlets to remember what happened in the Nick Sandmann case and think twice about defaming Kari Lake.”
Lake said along with an official campaign statement, “It is truly disgusting that this even has to be addressed, but adults should not undress in front of children or sexualize them in any way. The Media is the Enemy of the People. And frankly – the right hand of the Devil.”
Sandmann was a teenager when he sued CNN and The Washington Post for emotional distress suffered by him and his family after the outlets made it appear he was behaving in a racist manner toward an elderly Native American. Although the details are sealed, both outlets reportedly agreed to settlements that were over $1 million.
Lady MAGA, a conservative drag artist and a gay man named Ryan Woods who is supportive of Christian values, is well known for his opposition to Drag Queen Story Hour, where drag queens in provocative clothing read stories to children in public libraries. He said he believes that while consenting adults are free to participate in those types of activities, they should be off-limits to children.
He is also highly critical of the suggestive manner and dress of drag queens; he dresses in drag in a way that is not sexual. Similarly, Lake said the Monroe impersonator that her daughter observed did not provide a sexualized performance.
Arizona Senate Republicans said in their announcement of forthcoming legislation, “If men want to dress as women, and if adults want to participate in watching these hyper-sexualized performances, they have the freedom to do so. It crosses the line when kids are subjected to these drag shows.”
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Barbra Seville” by Barbra Seville. Photo “Kari Lake” by Kari Lake. Background Photo “Arizona Capitol” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.