June 5, 2023

Drag events intended for children to attend have been held at various venues, including libraries, schools and even breweries, for about a decade. Explicitly LGBTQ websites, videos, books, and products have been made available for very young audiences, often in ways that seem intended to skirt parental attention.This has not been an uncontroversial development, but Americans who are displeased with these developments have mostly responded by promoting awareness of these developments and supporting efforts to prevent young children having easy access to such materials.

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Disapproval of LGBTQ or pride performances, products and materials being expressed in peaceful ways has been depicted by some sources as existential threats to the community. Recently, Target prominently displaying pro-trans, pro-Satanism and cross-dressing apparel for infants, and customers withdrew enough business to cost Target $13 billion dollars in market capitalization in nine days.

After some Target locations moved the merchandise away from the front of stores, several shops received bomb threats complaining that relocating the merchandise was unsupportive of the LGBTQ cause. Some reporting, citing pro-LGBTQ organizations GLSEN and GLAAD, framed the threats to Target as if the pro-LGBTQ stance was only alleged, and implied that Target’s response refused to address danger to the LGBTQ community. CNN described Target as “held hostage to an anti-LGBTQ campaign.” Meanwhile, tweets were posted implicating the source of violence and threats as the Republican voters, homophobic lunatics and conservative media. One Tweet said, “Again, please explain to be how threatening death over a T-shirt is better than letting people just live their lives to love each other.”

But the response of displeased customers was to refrain from purchases at the retailer. Seriously, what could possibly be less violent than withdrawing from interaction with someone, or some organization, that engages in behavior one disapproves of? Isn’t cancelling, lefty-style, all about blocking interaction with those who disagree with them?

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Another version of this tactic for smearing negative response as potentially violent is setting up defenses as if violence is expected, as was done for a an all-ages drag event in Texas last August, protected by armed Antifa guards, and another in Canada, last January, where masked, black-clad activists protecting a drag story time menaced and attacked protesters outside the library hosting the event.

Public libraries in Portland, Oregon, hosted some Drag Queen Story events a few years ago. The library’s Flickr post about one drag story event featuring photos of the drag queen on his back, on the floor with children on top of him, went viral. The post was then removed from the library’s social media. Initial reports said the performer got on the floor and invited the children to climb on top of him. Carla Rossi/Anthony Hudson, the performer in question, later claimed on Twitter that the kids had knocked him down, because of his bad hip and high heels. In the photos, he doesn’t appear to be resisting or exhibiting pain.

Portland’s public libraries hosted a few subsequent drag events for children and teens. After a while, such events stopped being scheduled. Apparently, this was just a temporary respite, as this library administration has plans to re-start such events, with one scheduled for July 12, 2023.

Residents of Portland are unlikely to be aware of their local library’s upcoming Drag Queen Storytime and Rainbow Families Storytime events, as the library administration apparently intends to host these events on the q.t. Staff have been requested to not publicize upcoming events on social media or display printed notifications at the locations of upcoming events without affirmative permission. Creation and distribution of materials about the events is to be under control of specific library staff, to prevent disruption of the events.

No previous Portland library drag event attended by children has been disrupted.

While mainstream national media coverage focuses on fears about potential violence or harm targeting drag story events (as well as other LGBTQ or pride merchandise or events), nationwide, there have only been a handful of arrests, two for alleged assault, during protests of drag events at American libraries (There are approximately 9000 public libraries, and about 105,000 school libraries in the U.S.). In November 2022, there were pro and con demonstrators, some armed, outside a drag event featuring an 11 year old minor at a bar in Eugene, Oregon (about 100 miles south of Portland). There were no arrests.