Congressman George Santos Source: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Santos Acknowledges 'Drag Queen' Pics – 'I Was Young'

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

Openly gay Republican congressman George Santos "categorically" denied having performed as a drag queen in his youth. Over the weekend, that story changed... sort of.

Santos "confirmed the authenticity of images where he looks to be dressed as a drag queen," Insider relayed, basing its story on a TMZ article that reported on Santos' comments to reporters who greeted him in New York as he departed a flight from Washington D.C. and started "peppering him with questions about his many scandals and apparent lies – including the drag thing."

"I was not a drag queen," Santos told reporters. "I was young and I had fun at a festival."

The pictures in question reportedly date from 15 years ago and seem to show Santos in full drag.

"Eula Rochard, a drag performer from Brazil, said that she had known Santos as a drag queen and that he'd competed in drag in a beauty pageant under the name Kitara Ravache in 2008," Insider recalled.

As previously reported, Rochard detailed to Reuters that "she befriended the now-congressman when he was cross-dressing in 2005 at the first gay pride parade in Niteroi, a Rio de Janeiro suburb."

"Three years later, Santos competed in a drag beauty pageant in Rio," Rochard went on to claim.

A second source, also from Niteroi, requested to remain anonymous, but told the outlet that Santos had "participated in drag queen beauty pageants and aspired to be Miss Gay Rio de Janeiro."

"Rochard is pictured next to Santos in one of the images, and she posted another image of him appearing to be in drag on Instagram," Insider detailed.

TMZ observed that Santos' latest comments on the photos are "basically a 180 from his outright denial," adding that they seem "to be in line with an emerging pattern with him. Namely, he tends to flatly challenge stories about him as false – only to recant later."

Santos, who also stands accused of various episodes of theft – including an accusation that he stole money from a GoFundMe intended to help a veteran's sick dog – took to Twitter on Jan. 19 to deny those claims, posting, "The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag Queen or 'performed' as a drag Queen is categorically false."

"It was a rare public denial," Insider noted, "as the representative has left many other questions about his past unanswered."

The photos of Santos emerged as GOP lawmakers in several states are pushing bills that would automatically categorize drag shows as "adult" entertainment regardless of actual content. Some lawmakers are also pressing for the criminalization of children being present at drag events. It's unclear whether those proposed laws would carve out exemptions for festivals in which men appear to be performing in drag, but are only "young" and having "fun."

Right-wing protestors, meanwhile, continue to besiege drag story time hours and other family-friendly drag events, falsely accusing drag performers of "grooming" children.

Watch a video of Santos' response to reporters by following this link.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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