Representative George Santos of New York is facing a new controversy following a report saying the embattled congressman used to perform in drag, with some of his staunchest GOP supporters remaining silent about the claim.
Journalist Marisa Kabas on Wednesday reported that Santos had performed as an amateur drag queen named “Kitara Revache” while living in Brazil roughly 15 years ago. Kabas also shared a photo that purportedly shows Santos dressed in drag alongside fellow drag queen Eula Rochard, who spoke to the journalist after recently spotting the congressman on Brazilian TV.
Santos continues to face backlash for extensively lying about his background before being elected in November. Uncertainties surrounding the Republican include even his name. He was reportedly known as Anthony Devolder at the time Kabas claimed he performed in drag.
“I just spoke by phone with Eula Rochard, a Brazilian drag queen who was friends with George Santos when he lived near Rio,” Kabas tweeted alongside the photo allegedly showing the congressman in drag. “She said everyone knew him as Anthony (*never* George), or by his drag name, Kitara, and confirms this photo is from a 2008 drag show at Icaraí Beach.”
While the person in the photo shared by Kabas does bear a resemblance to Santos, Newsweek has not independently verified her reporting or the authenticity of the photo. Regardless, a number of commentators assumed that the report was true, citing Santos’ history of fabricating and seemingly hiding details about his past.
Many were quick to accuse the congressman of hypocrisy for associating with the Republican Party’s right wing, which has recently been on a crusade against drag performers and other gender-nonconforming people. Some Republicans, such as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, have baselessly claimed that children are being sexually “groomed” at events like “Drag Queen Story Hour.”
“WAIT, SO GEORGE SANTOS WAS A DRAG QUEEN?” Democratic Congressman Robert Garcia tweeted. “I can’t with his lies and hypocrisy. He’s a fraud who has linked up with extremists who are trying to hurt this very community. He’s sick. Hey @Santos4Congress RESIGN NOW.”
“BREAKING: George Santos was also a drag queen in Brazil, per new reports,” tweeted lawyer Tristan Snell. “So does this mean Santos will now be banned in most Republican-led states?”
“Considering republicans have made drag queens their number one cause du jour, enemy wise, I wonder how this will sit with them,” communications strategist Brooke Hammerling tweeted. “Frankly this is the first likable thing about @Santos4Congress tbh.”
Few prominent Republicans had commented on the Santos drag claim at the time of publication. Notably, those who did weigh in did not accuse the congressman of “grooming” children by allegedly performing in drag.
So the latest is that #GeorgeSantos was a drag performer in Brazil under the name Kitara Ravache,” conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza tweeted. “I’m developing a new respect for the versatility of this dude. Is there anything he cannot be? Next we’ll find out he spent a few days as an orangutan in the Mumbai zoo”
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, who appointed Santos to two congressional committees this week despite having had “concerns” about his past, was among the Republicans who remained silent about the report.
Also notably silent were Greene and Representative Matt Gaetz, who have both defended Santos against criticism and calls for him to resign due to his history of lying. Greene and Gaetz have denounced drag performances, rhetoric that some say has inspired violence from the far right.
When reached for comment, Greene’s Communications Director Nick Dyer told Newsweek that he and the congresswoman were “not getting involved in this media-created drama.”
Greene has been at the forefront of a recent Republican push against a variety of gender-nonconforming people, which has included efforts to legislate drag shows out of existence in some places.
In addition to denouncing drag shows, Greene has also led the charge against gender-affirming health care for transgender people, having described related surgeries as “mutilation.” Last year, she introduced a bill that would federally criminalize affirming care for transgender children.
The medical community, including major organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, backs gender-affirming care as an effective and potentially life-saving treatment for adults and children with gender dysphoria.
Newsweek has reached out to the offices of Santos, McCarthy and Gaetz for comment.