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LISTEN: Inside the protest at Gerritsen Beach’s Drag Queen Story Hour

June 13, 2019 By Scott Enman, Paul Frangipane, Lawrence Madsen
In this Saturday, May 13, 2017 photo, Lil Miss Hot Mess reads to children during the Feminist Press' presentation of Drag Queen Story Hour at the Park Slope Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. About once a month since last fall, the Brooklyn Public Library has been presenting Drag Queen Story Hour, where performers with names such as Lil Miss Hot Mess and Ona Louise regale an audience of young children and their parents. AP Photos/Mary Altaffer
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“I just feel like children shouldn’t be subjected to this type of thing … our children should be able to grow up and come to these decisions on their own just like everybody else,” said protest organizer Tag, who didn’t give his last name. Tag clarified that he did not have issues with drag queens, but rather the programming itself.

The opposition was met by counter protesters as drag queen Angel Elektra read to a room full of children inside the local library.

“I guess this was kind of shocking to see that at first, but not really surprising,” said Jonathan Hamlit, co-founder of Drag Queen Story Hour in New York.

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Hamlit kicked off the chapter in New York when he read to Fort Greene’s Greenlight book store in 2016 in his drag persona, Ona Louise.

“The love and support we get has always trumped any protesters that we’ve had,” Hamlit said. “So the amount of support we get always exceeds anybody who is in opposition to us.”

Chief Librarian Nick Higgins was present during the story hour at Gerritsen Beach and said that potentially controversial content in libraries in nothing new.

“I think the line is that a good public library has something in it that will offend everybody,” he said. “I think it’s true about the resources and the books that we have on the shelves, and about the programming.”

Higgins added he was not sure if Drag Queen Story Hour would be returning to the Gerritsen Beach branch.

  • Interview with Meaghan McGoldrick at 1:47
  • Interview with Jonathan Hamlit at 8:11
  • Interview with Nick Higgins at 11:36

Brooklyn this Week‘s host Lawrence Madsen is a native New Yorker. He graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in History, and volunteers with the disaster relief group Team Rubicon.

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