New York’s Drag Story Hour ends year of anti-drag attacks

Even New York, the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, is not immune to the surge in anti-drug protests that have swept across the US this year.

This month alone, there have been at least two such protests in the country’s most populous city. The latest happened on Thursday outside a public library in the Queens area, where a Drag Story Hour event for kids was scheduled. Drag Story Hour is a national program launched in 2015 in which drag artists read books to children in libraries, schools and bookstores to celebrate diversity and encourage children to read, according to the program’s website.

Shekar Krishnan, a member of the New York City Council representing part of the area, estimated that there were 500 protesters, with counter-protesters far outnumbering their opponents.

“We outnumbered the haters (400 to 100) and drowned them out with ABBA singing, drumming, dancing and singing,” tweeted Krishnan, who was there to support the Drag Story Hour event, which went on as planned. .

According to local news outlets PIX11 and Gothamist, protesters carried signs reading “Leave the kids alone” and “Stop the transvestite story hour”, while counter-protesters carried signs reading “Keep homophobia away” and “Libraries for all.”

Videos and photos posted on social media show the protest turned tense at times, with participants yelling at each other and at the police. Some pictures show participant carry the Proud Boys flagand another, photographed for Getty Images, shows a protester giving the Nazi salute.

A spokesman for the New York Police Department said one person was arrested in connection with Thursday’s protest. The NYPD also received two arson complaints in which an unidentified person allegedly poured a substance on two unoccupied vehicles and set them on fire, but those cases are still under investigation, the spokesman said.

Demonstrators gather to protest in support of the Drag Story Hour outside the Queens Public Library.
Demonstrators gather to protest in support of the Drag Story Hour outside the Queens Public Library in New York on Thursday.Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images

Hours before the event, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams released a joint statement with three council members — Krishnan, Eric Botcher, and Crystal Hudson — saying three members’ homes were vandalized in connection with their support for recent Drag Story Hour events.

“In recent months, anti-LGBTQ+ protesters have come to these family gatherings trying to break into our libraries to disrupt them, yelling homophobic and transphobic slurs at performers and patrons,” they said. “Harmful, homophobic and transphobic extremism that targets Drag Story Hour events and the New Yorkers who support them, including council members, is vile and dangerous.”

Last year, some conservative elected officials, right-wing media and anti-LGBTQ social media accounts described the program as unacceptable for children, and some even went so far as to characterize it as sexual “grooming” of minors, perpetuating an attack on LGBTQ people. people who are decades old.

Demonstrators gathered to protest the Drag Story Hour outside the Queens Public Library in New York City.
Demonstrators gathered to protest the Drag Story Hour outside the Queens Public Library in New York on Thursday.Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty Images

Thursday’s incident marks at least the second protest at the Drag Story Hour event in New York this month. On December 17, protesters gathered outside the New York Public Library branch in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood to protest the Drag Story Hour, which organizers say was created to make it more accessible to children with autism and other disabilities.

Councilman Botcher, who attended the event, said his home and office were vandalized two days later. He documented the incidents on social media with photos and video filmed by his staff.

On December 19, protesters vandalized a hallway near Botcher’s office, although no arrests were made in the incident, according to police. Botcher shared video this, he says, shows protesters yelling at his employees.

Later that day, just before 5 p.m., protesters gathered outside Botcher’s home, police said. Botcher claimed that someone physically attacked his neighbor and he general video incident. An NYPD spokesman said police had arrested and charged 33-year-old David Nieves of Brooklyn with assault and harassment in connection with the incident, which occurred at 4:50 p.m. Nives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About 10 minutes later, two women allegedly entered Botcher’s home without permission, an NYPD spokesman said. D’Anna Morgan, 27, of Queens, and Erica Sanchez, 44, of the Bronx, were arrested for trespassing and released pending trial, a spokeswoman said. Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Sanchez could not be contacted for comment.

Botcher accused the protesters of also desecrating the sidewalk outside his apartment building with homophobic messages, including “Eric Botcher is a pedophile caring for children,” echoing rhetoric that has been increasingly used by some Republican elected officials over the past two years. .

“This is pure hate exposed,” Botcher said of the messages in front of his residence. “If they think it will intimidate us, they are wrong. Our resolve is getting stronger.”

A spokesperson for Bottcher did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

These incidents in New York are among the latest in a nationwide surge in attacks and protests against drag plays and events.

Last month, LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD released a report saying there were more than 140 incidents of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats against drug events in 47 states in 2022, with Texas, North Carolina and Illinois all reporting most of these protests. The organization found that some of the protests were organized by white nationalist groups, including the Proud Boys, who in some cases showed up at Drag Story Hour events with guns.

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