“The Drag Queen Story Hour” is just what it sounds like, drag queens going to bookstores, libraries, and schools to read to children.
“DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real,” the events website shares.
Last week in Spokane, Washington, Tirrany Hex, a drag queen read “Not All Princesses Wear Pink” to about 50 children and their parents at a local library.
Sadly, outside the presence of a SWAT team, a pair of marksmen, and 40 police officers were necessary. The weeks leading up to the event were filled with tension and fear about growing threats of violence. One community rumor even involved neo-Nazis plotting a second Charlottesville.
Despite the officers outside the children, who attended the event, left laughing, smiling and wanting more.
Hex, whose real name is Andrea Tate told the media that she had received threats. Some of her harassers even tracked down social media accounts that belonged to her stepmother. They took images from her stepmother’s accounts of Tate as a teenager and used them to try and shame her. Going as far as to call her a “demon.”
The Spokane police department even received threats that protesters and counter-protesters planned to arrive at the event armed.
Threats, heavy police presence, and protesters have become regular additions to “The Drag Queen Story Hour.” The event series began in 2015 in San Francisco.
It is sad to see so much anger and hatred surround an event whose mission is to teach children diversity, self-acceptance, and to look beyond gender stereotypes.
In the end, about 200 protesters showed up to the Spokane to protest, but they were greeted by more than 400 counter protesters,
“It turned into a block party for these kids,” said Tate. “There were bubbles, and chalk, and costume bins.”
The event was such a success that the library scheduled a second event.
Some events weren’t so lucky. A library in Warren County, New Jersey, had to cancel “Drag Queen Story Hour” after receiving two days of nonstop phone calls. Another event in Austin, Texas was canceled because of threats of protests and violence. That event was eventually held in a pro-LGBTQ church in the area.
The right-wing’s growing obsession with “The Drag Queen Story Hour” coincides with the rise in far-right attention to Pride events.
Threats and protests against “The Drag Queen Story Hour” have been fueled by the baseless conspiracy theory that the events are hotbeds of pedophilia. This theory has been promoted across right-wing media, including Fox News, as well as racist forums on the toxic imageboard sites 8chan and 4chan.
Despite the threats of violence, “The Drag Queen Story Hour” is here to stay. Right now there are close to 30 events planned for July alone.
“We are a program that is spreading love and tolerance and literacy,” said Johnathan Hamilt the Deputy director of “The Drag Queen Story Hour’s” New York City chapter “Most people who are against it don’t know what they’re talking about. It comes down to fear of the unknown, and when they’re fearful it comes out in anger, be it homophobic, xenophobic or transphobic.