George Santos denies competing as drag queen named ‘Kitara’ in Brazilian pageants

Freshman Republican congressman George Santos has moved to deny reports that he performed in drag competitions under the name “Kitara” while living in Brazil over a decade ago.

Mr Santos remains under fire over a series of alleged untruths concerning his background, which arose from a New York Times investigation alleging that he had fabricated a number of key details about his past. The fabrications have led to persistent calls for his resignation just months after he was elected to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District, having defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman in November’s midterms.

“The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag Queen or ‘performed’ as a drag Queen is categorically false,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

“The media continues to make outrageous claims about my life while I am working to deliver results. I will not be distracted nor fazed by this.”

The latest colourful accusation against Mr Santos comes from veteran Brazilian drag performer Eula Rochard, 58, who told the Reuters news agency that she had first encountered the individual she now alleges is Mr Santos at the first gay pride parade held in Niteroi, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, in 2005 and says she remembers seeing him compete in a drag beauty pageant in the same city three years later, much more flamboyantly attired on the second occasion.

“He’s changed a lot, but he was always a liar,” Ms Rochard told Reuters. “He was always such a dreamer.”

She first came forward to make her allegation against Mr Santos after spotting him on television, excitedly telling her friends and then reacting to their disbelief by digging out an old photograph she insists shows the pair of them together in costume, posting it on Instagram.

In an interview with Maria Kabas of The Handbasket Substack, Ms Rochard said: “I think I met him when he was around 16 or 17 years old… He used to hang out in my house while his mom was playing Bingo.

“The picture was taken in 2008 at the Pride Parade at Icarai Beach in Niteroi,” she said of the unearthed photo, which identifies the performer she now claims is Mr Santos as one “Kitara Ravache”.

“George had disappeared for a little while, and then returned to Brazil with a lot of money, and that was about the same time when the picture was taken.”

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Of “Kitara’s” prospects as a performer, Ms Rochard was dismissive: “He did not have what it takes to be a professional. George did not have the glamour for that.”

She also insisted that Mr Santos “lied about everything.”

“He used to create stories, usually involving money — like that his dad was rich. But then people wondered why his mom was a cleaning lady. There’s nothing wrong with being a cleaning lady, but if his dad was rich, why then?”

Mr Santos is the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican to be elected to the House of Representatives but has been criticised over his support for Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law banning the discussion of LGBT+ issues in the classrooms of the state’s schools.

“I am openly gay, have never had an issue with my sexual identity in the past decade, and I can tell you and assure you, I will always be an advocate for LGBTQ folks,” he told USA Today in an interview last October.

If Mr Santos does turn out to have taken a turn on the catwalk as Ms Rochard alleges, the fact could pose a political problem for him within some Republican circles, with some conservatives hitting out at drag performers as a bad influence on impressionable young people.

In one alarming incident last summer, members of the far-right group the Proud Boys crashed a “Drag Queen Story Hour” event for kindergartners at a public library in Alameda County, California, behaving aggressively and shouting homophobic slurs.

Panda Dulce, a performer hosting the event, wrote on Instagram afterwards that the agitators “totally freaked out all of the kids” before being removed once the police were called.