BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — A library in Bristol decided to cancel their “Drag Queen Story Hour” event due to threats of protests and possibly violence from residents.
Rogers Free Library said in a statement that the need for police presence at the event, “was not a welcoming and appropriate context for children and their families.” The event was supposed to be held on June 15.
“The director’s first and foremost concern was guaranteeing the safety of our patrons, especially small children,” the statement reads.
The library said they hope to find a way to host the program or similar programs in the future.
The Bristol Democratic Town Committee responded to the cancelation, calling it “disheartening.”
“Rogers Free Library announced earlier this week that it had canceled a scheduled ‘Drag Queen Story Hour,’ stating that Bristol didn’t seem ‘ready’ for such an event and that it ‘may be something more diverse communities can appreciate,'” a statement from the committee reads. “This type of discrimination runs in direct contrast to the library’s stated mission of inclusivity and community, and in opposition to our shared Democratic values.”
A similar event will take place on Saturday at a library in Fall River. Local drag queen Naomi Chomsky is set to read two picture books and lead a craft group.
Fall River Library Director Liane Verville told The Associated Press she plans to go ahead with the event despite about 50 calls from people who are opposed to it.
Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, believes the event should also be canceled because it is inappropriate for children.
“These are guys who dress up as hyper-sexualized version of women and it’s pretty degrading to actual woman, I think,” he said.
Beckwith said his group plans to protest the event by conducting a silent sit-in as the event takes place.
“The drag queen scene typically is reserved to adult entertainment facilities or bars… not the children’s section of the library,” he said.
Josh Kilby, also known as Chomsky, said he’s blocking out the noise and is excited for Saturday’s event.
“I have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “I know who I am, it’s 2019. It’s time.”
“For every loud voice coming out against it, there’s three or four moms that are like, ‘We can’t wait!'” Kilby added. “Am I going to tailor my outfit and my performance in the way I carry myself to children? Of course I am. I’m reading children’s stories and doing a craft. This is the most wholesome thing I’ve ever been asked to do.”
Beckwith said the event is disturbing and has no place in a library.
“Wanting to sexually express yourself in front of young children is kind of a disturbing concept and why libraries are promoting it is really beyond me,” Beckwith said.
Fall River Pride, the group who organized the event, said they hope all those who attend act with kindness and respect.