Even New York City, the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, is not immune to the wave of anti-drag protests that 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 occurred Thursday outside a public library in the borough of Queens, where a children’s Drag Story Hour event was scheduled. Drag Story Hour is a national program started in 2015 in which drag performers read books to children in libraries, schools and bookstores to celebrate diversity and encourage children to read, according to the program website.
Shekar Krishnan, a New York City councilman who represents parts of the borough, estimated there were 500 protesters, with the counter-protesters far outnumbering their anti-drag counterparts.
“We outnumber the haters (400 to 100) and drown them out with ABBA chants, drums, dances and songs,” Krishnan, who was there to support the Drag Story Hour event, which took place according to reports, wrote on Twitter. the planned. .
Protesters carried signs reading “Leave the kids alone” and “Stop Drag Queen Story Hour,” while counter-protesters carried signs reading “Scare away homophobia” and “Libraries are for everyone,” according to the local media. PIX11 Y gothamist.
Videos and photos shared on social media show the protest becoming tense at times, with participants yelling at each other and at the police. Some photos show an assistant carrying a Proud Boys flagand another captured by a Getty Images photographer shows a protester giving a Nazi salute.
A spokesman for the New York City Police Department said one person was arrested in connection with Thursday’s protest. The New York police also received two reports of arson in which an unidentified individual allegedly poured a substance into two vacant vehicles and set them on fire, but those cases are still under investigation, the spokesperson said.
Hours before the event, New York City Council President Adrienne Adams released a joint statement with three council members, Krishnan, Erik Bottcher and Crystal Hudson, stating that the homes of the three members were vandalized in connection with your support of recent Drag Story Hour events.
“In recent months, anti-LGBTQIA+ protesters have descended on these family-friendly events, attempting to break into our libraries to disrupt them while yelling homophobic and transphobic slurs at performers and attendees,” 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.”
In the past year, some conservative elected officials, right-wing media personalities, and anti-LGBTQ social media accounts have characterized the show as inappropriate for children, and some have even gone so far as to describe it as minors “grooming” sexually, perpetuating a decades-long attack on LGBTQ people.
Thursday’s incident marks at least the second protest of a Drag Story Hour event in New York City this month. On December 17, protesters gathered outside a branch of the New York Public Library in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan to oppose a Drag Story Hour event that organizers say was created to be more accessible to children with disabilities. autism and other disabilities.
Councilor Bottcher, who had attended the event, said his home and office were vandalized two days later. He documented the incidents on social media with photos and videos taken by your staff.
Protesters vandalized the hallway outside Bottcher’s office on December 19, according to police, though no arrests have been made in that incident. bungler shared a video which he said shows protesters yelling at his staff.
Later that day, just before 5 p.m., protesters gathered in front of Bottcher’s apartment building, police said. Bottcher alleged that someone physically assaulted his neighbor and he shared video The New York police spokesman said police have arrested and charged David Nieves, 33, of Brooklyn, with assault and harassment in connection with the incident, which occurred at 4:50 p.m. Nieves did not immediately respond. immediately to a request for comments.
About 10 minutes later, two women allegedly entered Bottcher’s residence without permission, the NYPD spokesman said. D’Anna Morgan, 27, of Queens, and Erica Sanchez, 44, of the Bronx were arrested for trespassing and released while awaiting court appearance, the spokesperson said. Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment and Sanchez could not be reached for comment.
Bottcher accused protesters of also vandalizing the sidewalk in front of his apartment building with homophobic messages, including “Erik Bottcher is a farting child fart,” echoing rhetoric that some Republican elected officials have increasingly used in recent years. last two years.
“This is pure hate, unmasked,” Bottcher said of the messages in front of his residence. “If you think this is going to intimidate us, you are wrong. Our resolve is strengthened.”
A representative for Bottcher did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
These incidents in New York are among the latest in a nationwide wave of attacks and protests against drag performances and events.
Last month, the LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD issued a report indicating that there were more than 140 incidents of anti-LGBTQ protests and threats targeting drag events in 47 states by 2022, with Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois reporting the most such protests. Some of the protests, the organization found, had been organized by white nationalist groups, including the Proud Boys, who, in some cases, have shown up armed at Drag Story Hour events.