PHOENIX — Richard Stevens is widely known as drag queen Barbra Seville, a Valley entertainer for the last two decades.
Now he's known internationally.
"I didn't know what it meant to people until this all went down," he said, holding back tears during a 12 News interview. "It's crazy."
Last weekend, Stevens called out Republican candidate for governor Kari Lake for hypocrisy. The story went viral.
Lake, a former TV news anchor in Phoenix, has joined her fellow Republicans in targeting drag queens, insinuating they're pedophiles.
In response, Stevens - on his Barbra Seville Facebook page - posted images and Lake's own Instagram posts showing him in drag with Lake, as well as text message exchanges to back up his claims that they were friends.
"There are people more vulnerable than me and that's what I worry about when people say trans people or gay people are this or that," he said.
"It's horrible and it's not true and she knows it's not true."
What would Stevens say to Lake today?
"I hope you find some peace, and I hope whatever it is you're going for is worth the damage that you've done."
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Lawyer's Letter Sent After Interview
12 News taped the interview with Stevens on Friday, for broadcast Sunday night.
On Saturday, a lawyer for Lake and her campaign served Stevens with a "cease and desist" letter.
The letter demands that he stop making "defamatory statements" about Lake and remove all such statements from social media.
The letter, from lawyer Tim La Sota, says Stevens made false claims about Lake taking her daughter to a drag show, having a drag show at her home, and being asked to leave a bar because she was drunk.
Stevens 'will not cease and desist'
Stevens' attorney, Tom Ryan, sent a formal response on Monday: "To be clear, Mr. Stevens will not cease and desist."
He went on:
"Ms. Lake was once a respected news anchor for a major TV station, Many Arizonans invited Ms. Lake into their homes each evening to hear her deliver the news. Something happened to her - to make her mean, angry and sullen. Now Kari is a bully, and the reservoir of good will she had built up over the years as a cherished news anchor - well, that’s been drained to the point where we might as well just refer to her now as Kari Puddles."
Back in December, La Sota sent another cease-and-desist letter in response to a tweet about Lake by a Republican campaign consultant and former Arizona Republican Party executive director.
Latest Sign of Conflicting Positions
For Lake's opponents in the Republican primary for governor, her friendship with Seville and attendance at drag shows is further evidence of the conflict between what former the TV news anchor says as a candidate versus what she said and did before she got into politics last year.
Last week, Lake told a Republican audience in Gilbert: "They can come after me, they can call me names, they can send the drag queens out to attack me. I don't care, I'll take them on because I'm a woman and they're not."
Polls indicate Lake is leading the three-way race against business owner Karrin Taylor Robson and former Congressman Matt Salmon.
Early voting in Arizona starts July 6.
Sunday Square Off
Watch previous interviews and segments of Sunday Square Off on our 12 News YouTube channel. Be sure to subscribe to receive updates on new uploads!