Who's Grooming These Rightwing Creeps Who Terrify Kids At Library Story Hour?
Rightwing creeps continue to try to scare children and parents at public library story events, with at least three such incidents over the weekend. At one, outside Reno in Sparks, Nevada, a member of a small group of white supremacists protesting the event approached the library while carrying a rifle, causing parents and kids to flee inside the library. But at two other drag queen story time events, in Sacramento, California, and in the Dallas suburb of McKinney, Texas, LGBTQ and allied counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the rightwing creeps and shielded the kids from them.
As Yr Wonkette has noted, far-Right groups have taken to threatening, harassing, and planning attacks on LGBTQ people during Pride Month, following the lead of Republican Party efforts to stir up anti-LGBTQ hatred to motivate its basest voters. It's encouraging to see more people turning out to say HELL. NO.
In Sparks, a small group — video shows about six — of protesters affiliated with the white power Proud Boys hate group picketed a Drag Queen Story Time event at the Sparks Library Sunday afternoon. They shouted Christian nationalist sentiments at parents and children such as "Shame on you for bringing you children to this!" and "You're sick!"
Reno TV station KRXI reports about 60 families attended the two story times at the library, the third year the Pride Month event has been held since 2019 (we'd say "annual," but hey, pandemic). The kids had a fine old time being read to by drag performer Miss Ginger.
\u201c#DragQueenStoryTime was a success! Sparks families came out today to meet Miss Ginger and join in the fun. Special thanks to Austin from @SenCortezMasto\u2019s office for presenting Ginger with a very special proclamation! What an honor on this fabulous day! \ud83c\udf08\ud83d\udcda\u201d— Washoe County Library (@Washoe County Library) 1656281238
Police were monitoring the protest from a distance in parked vehicles, but left as the event ended. Shortly after police left, one of the protesters walked toward the library carrying a rifle, prompting parents and kids leaving the event to run back into the library. A library employee, who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation from extremists (yes, that's a sentence we now have to write in the USA), said, "We had some people who were visibly shaken and sobbing. [...] We brought everybody in the building and got them out of vision, out of sight."
The library employee told KRXI she'd called police four times during the event to request help; police records show they responded twice. She added, "When you have a situation where it's potentially volatile and weapon appears -- simply a presence, indicating that there are police nearby, would have been reassuring to the families."
No police were on the scene at the time the armed man approached the library; they returned when people called 911, but by then the man had left. At least a helpful police statement explained that because Nevada allows open carry of firearms, they wouldn't have arrested the man with a gun who terrified families and children, because what are you, afraid of Liberty? In fact, KXRI notes, open carry of firearms is even legal in public libraries, though not in schools.
In the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova on Saturday, a Pride event at the Sacramento Children's Museum for children and families was picketed by anti-LGBTQ protesters, but folks attending the event pushed back. according to KVOR-TV:
Drag princess Suzette Veneti says she wasn’t surprised, she was disappointed and wanted answers. One sign read: “Groomers are not welcome in California.” Another read: “Protect white children.”
“You’re standing there with a megaphone and signs, you’re scaring kids,” Veneti said. “They could’ve protested at Pride. They could protest anywhere they want, but to pick a children’s museum with children, like, this is for kids.”
The Sacramento Gay Men's Chorus was at the event, too; chorus member Andrew Gibout said, "There were a lot of young volunteers just in tears, because they had never experienced something like this."
\u201cMembers of the Sacramento Gay Men\u2019s Chorus stood in front of a group of neo-Nazis with a megaphone attempting to harass + disrupt a #Pride2022 event with children + families in #RanchoCordova and sang until the white supremacists left the area. https://t.co/HhEUuW5Izk\u201d— It's Going Down (@It's Going Down) 1656406685
Fortunately, sometimes a story time event turns into a story book plot all on its own: The choir and others attending the event shielded the kids and parents from the protesters and sang them away.
“It was like this is what we do,” Gibout said. “And so we all started to join in the chorus of ‘We are the World’ like 57 times, and it drowned out all the hate. They ultimately walked away, because no one could hear them anymore, so it didn’t matter what they were saying.”
And that's what Pride is all about, Charlie Brown.
One more? Sure! Buzzfeed News reports on another heartening response to hate, this time in McKinney, Texas, north of Dallas. Families at Saturday's Pride Month Family Storytime event were again protected from rightwing protesters by LGBTQ and allied counter-protesters who far outnumbered the Proud Boys creeps.
Wearing Pride rainbows and carrying signs to support the library and the LGBTQ community, these counterprotesters were on a mission to drown out the hate and make those attending feel welcome.
“The word went out on the internet…and people showed up,” said Michael Phillips, a historian and senior research fellow at Southern Methodist University, who was among the counterprotesters. “It was pretty well organized to make sure that the families bringing their children to this event weren't harassed, weren’t harangued — basically to form a human shield.”
“We formed a corridor that families could pass through,” Phillips added.
Goddamn right I cried a little reading that. And here are pics, from the Twitters.
\u201cThanks to @_josie98 and others who blocked these people from harassing kids and families. And to all the LGBTQ community members and allies who showed up to make sure the entrance was clear of the hate groups. McKinney showed up!\u201d— Kathryn (@Kathryn) 1656194568
And by golly, the spirit of kindness and community even seems to have won over a McKinney City Council member who had worried the event might have been depraved and stuff. Council Member Patrick Cloutier said he'd visited the library Friday and been very concerned that the books to be read used terrifying terms like "queer" and "drag queen," and told other council members he wouldn't want his two-year-old granddaughter "exposed to" that stuff. But then he went — by himself.
Cloutier said he was pleasantly surprised. The event was held in a room that wouldn’t disturb other patrons who hadn’t bought tickets or who didn’t want to hear the readings. And the woman who read the books — who was not a drag performer — was engaging and made the children smile, Cloutier said.
“I was appreciative that people who were voluntarily there got what they wanted and what they were looking for,” Cloutier said. “The way she engaged the kids and the words that came out of her mouth, I saw nothing wrong with when I was in there.”
Maybe his heart grew three sizes that day. Unfortunately, BuzzFeed appears not to have asked if he'd take his granddaughter next year. Baby steps.
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