Embattled U.S. Rep. George Santos was drag queen in Brazil pageants, associates say

By Steven Grattan SAO PAULO (Reuters) -U.S. Representative George Santos competed as a drag queen in Brazilian beauty pageants 15 years ago, two acquaintances told

Reuters on Wednesday, adding to contrasts that have drawn criticism of the openly gay Republican congressman's staunchly conservative views. The embattled freshman

congressman has also faced calls from fellow New York Republicans to step down over fabrications about his career and history. A 58-year-old Brazilian performer, who uses

the drag name Eula Rochard, said 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 said. Another person from Niteroi who knew the 34-year-old congressman but asked not to be named said

he participated in drag queen beauty pageants and aspired to be Miss Gay Rio de Janeiro. The congressman said on Twitter on Thursday that claims "that I am a drag Queen or

'performed' as a drag Queen" are "categorically false," adding: "I will not be distracted nor fazed by this." Santos is the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat

in Congress as a non-incumbent, but has positioned himself as a staunch conservative on many social issues. He has backed Florida's controversial "Parental Rights in

Education" law, which prohibits classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, leading critics to call it the "don't say gay" law. Republicans are

increasingly denouncing drag shows and performers, claiming they are harmful to children.