Far-right Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., reportedly performed as a drag queen in Brazilian beauty pageants under the pseudonym Kitara Ravache, according to statements and photos from the drag queens who say they knew him. Santos, an ally of former President Donald Trump and an openly gay Republican, has faced sharp criticism over his support of laws deemed antagonistic toward LGBTQ groups.
Reporter and MSNBC columnist Marisa Kabas offered more details on Twitter Thursday.
"I just spoke by phone with Eula Rochard, a Brazilian drag queen who was friends with George Santos when he lived near Rio. 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," she said in a Tweet.
Rochard's additional photos included some that bear a striking similarity to Congress' admitted resume-embellisher.
"Eula saw a story about Santos on Brazilian news and was sure was it was him," Kabas tweeted. "She shared the news with a group of friends and everyone doubted her. So she looked for an old picture to confirm, and she decided to post it to social media to prove to her friends that she was right."
A Reuters report Thursday independently cited two other former associates in Brazil who confirmed Rochard's story. An unnamed acquaintance of Santos from the same Rio de Janeiro suburb of Niterói reportedly said Santos participated in drag queen beauty pageants and aspired to be Miss Gay Rio de Janeiro."
In the same report, Rochard told Reuters that Santos was a "poor" drag queen in 2005, but in 2008 "came back to Niteroi with a lot of money." Rochard said Santos competed in -- but lost -- a drag beauty pageant that year using the drag name Kitara Ravache.
"He's changed a lot, but he was always a liar. He was always such a dreamer," Rochard said.
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Santos denied the allegations on Twitter.
"The most recent obsession from the media claiming that I am a drag Queen or 'performed' as a drag Queen is categorically false. The media continues to make outrageous claims about my life while I am working to deliver results," Santos said in a Thursday tweet. "I will not be distracted nor fazed by this."
Santos, who campaigned on his identity as an openly gay Republican, has been criticized for supporting a series of controversial policies widely considered antagonistic by LGBTQ community advocates.
The congressman, who is wanted in Brazil for a theft he has admitted to, was a vocal supporter of Florida's Parental Rights in Education law -- known by its critics as the"Don't Say Gay" law, which bars elementary school teachers from in-class discussions of sex, sexuality, and academic theories on gender identity "in a manner that is not age appropriate."
The law's proponents, including Santos, have noted that the law applies only to teachers of kindergarten through third grade, and requires schools to inform parents of any actions a school takes to intervene in the development of a child's gender identity -- such as administering undisclosed mental health counseling sessions. The law includes exceptions for cases where disclosing such information is would "result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect."
Critics of the measure and legal experts have argued, however, that the law's broad language about age propriety may open the door to wider in-classroom restrictions and curriculum scrutiny more precisely geared toward silencing classroom discussions of LGBTQ topics. They note that the law allows school districts ban instruction of these topics beyond the third grade if the topics are not deemed age-appropriate by state standards.
Santos is currently facing calls to resign from his own party, amid mounting ethics complaints and investigations into his potential misuse of campaign funds.
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