Embattled Republican Rep. George Santos is strongly denying claims that he once performed as a drag queen.
“The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag Queen or ‘performed’ as a drag Queen is categorically false,” the New York congressman tweeted Thursday after a Brazilian drag performer posted a photo of herself with another individual dressed in drag that she claims is Santos.
“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 tweet continued.
Santos, who represents New York’s 3rd District, has been under immense scrutiny over the past month for lying and misrepresenting his educational, work and family history, including falsely claiming he was Jewish and the descendant of Holocaust survivors. He also faces federal and local investigations into his campaign finances. Santos has admitted to “embellishing” his resume but has maintained he is “not a criminal.”
The congressman – an out gay man – was identified by a longtime local performer who says Santos went by the name Kitara Ravache. On January 12, performer Eula Rochards posted a picture of herself with another person in drag who she alleged was Santos at a Rio de Janeiro-area parade.
The photo is from a newspaper clipping from 2008 and identifies the person Rochards says is Santos as Kitara Revache.
Rochards also provided to CNN another, clearer image of the person she claims is Santos, in addition to the clipping.
CNN has not independently verified the images.
In an interview with CNN, Rochards said that it’s Santos in the pictures, adding that she knew him from LGBTQ events he attended in the town of Niterói, near Rio de Janeiro, where she said he was well known in the gay community.
Rochards said she recognized Santos from a recent news report and dug up the old pictures but was surprised to learn that Santos was a Republican.
“I don’t know him now, I only knew him then,” she said.
“But if [Jair] Bolsonaro can win here, why wouldn’t Santos win there?” she added, referring to the former Brazilian president.
Rochards said she wishes Santos would own up to this part of his past.
“It’s marvelous work [to be a drag queen]. He can’t discriminate against what he himself did, and if he does he is discriminating against me,” she said.
Santos has not replied to CNN’s request for comment. He told NBC News in a previous interview that he has “never experienced discrimination in the Republican Party.”
Santos has voiced support in the past for policies seen as discriminatory against LGBTQ individuals. In April 2022, he posted a video on Facebook vocalizing his support for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ legislation in Florida banning certain teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms. In the video, he accused Democrats of “wanting to groom our kids” – a homophobic term that invokes an idea that LGBTQ people corrupt children.