In order to stop this child grooming at this point you’d really have to… well, you’d have to do something more than complain about it.
Protesters pray outside a library in New York City as Flame, a drag queen sporting a bright wig and a red gown, entertains the children inside by singing the ABCs, leading a coloring activity and reading books about how it’s OK to be different.
Outside Chicago, protesters harass parents attending storytime with their children and proclaim that the staff operating the event came “from the devil.”
And in a San Francisco suburb, men invade Panda Dulce’s reading at a library’s Drag Queen Story Hour, shouting homophobic and transphobic slurs.
After focusing on transgender athletes and youths, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is now targeting drag storytimes — conceived as a way to educate and entertain children by appealing to their imaginations — with interruptions and other protests reported across the country in the past two weeks, since Pride Month began.
Praying outside the drag grooming hour? Bunch of bullies.
How dare they intimidate the people of drag.
Organizers of the story hours say that social media accounts are fueling the backlash and that opponents claiming they want to protect children are actually scaring and endangering them. The organizers said they will enhance security but won’t stop their programs.
The reading groups have faced pushback from the beginning, but the recent vitriol is new, said Jonathan Hamilt, executive director of Drag Queen Story Hour and the co-founder of the New York chapter.
“Being a part of the LGBT community and a queer person in general, we’ve always experienced hate and slurs and homophobia and transphobia. That’s unfortunately just part of our existence,” Hamilt said. “All this feels different and very real, and it feels a bit scarier.”
Drag Queen Story Hour, a nonprofit, was started in San Francisco in 2015 by activist and author Michelle Tea. Chapters have since opened across the U.S. and elsewhere. Other organizations with readers in drag have also formed.
As part of Drag Queen Story Hour’s programming, drag queens read to children and their parents at libraries, bookstores, fairs, parks and other public spaces to celebrate reading “through the glamorous art of drag.”
When the library in San Lorenzo, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco, held its first Drag Queen Story Hour four years ago, people prayed across the street in protest, said Alameda County librarian Cindy Chadwick.
Last weekend, as the library hosted its second such event, at least five men — one of them wearing a T-shirt showing a rifle and the words “Kill Your Local Pedophile” — walked in and began hurling insults at Panda Dulce as she read to children and their parents, Chadwick said.
“The horrible irony of it was they said over and over, ‘We’re here to protect the kids.’ And it was the kids they were terrifying. The kids were afraid of them, and the kids were there with their parents who had brought them to this event,” Chadwick said.
"They're just having fun…"
"There is no enjoying children being abused. We're here to protect the children because you won't." pic.twitter.com/OyvxfxHhCN
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) June 15, 2022
On June 11th, a group of 5 proud boys stormed a Library in San Lorenzo where Panda Dulce held an event for the kids called “Drag Queen Story Hour.”
While the incident is now being investigated as a hate crime, I have more details that may shock you about those men. pic.twitter.com/FyDTLOcGoX
— The Free Press Project (@FreePressProj) June 13, 2022
#pandadulce is a fucking pedophile that needs to be arrested and charged. Those guys that crashed "it's" story time hour trying to groom and influence young children to believe that being like him/her/it is totally okay.#dragqueenstorytime #pridemonth #pedophile pic.twitter.com/M2dojnkCuC
— Jack Wilson (@JohnMas30702297) June 15, 2022
A spokesperson for the county sheriff’s office said the men, who identified themselves as members of the Proud Boys, are all residents of the Bay Area. The episode is being investigated as a hate crime.
The Alameda County Library, which continues to receive threats, now plans to host a Pride event each month for the rest of the year, Chadwick said, and the sheriff’s office will provide security.
I like the Catholic prayer strategy.
It’s not going to do anything. But at least it draws the lines.