Today while I was preparing to teach a rope class my brothers and sisters were creating a Wall of Love around one of our local Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) events.
Why do we create a Wall of Love you might ask? Because protestors choose to show up and harass, intimidate, and threaten innocent children (some under five!), their families, and anyone who attends the event. Over the last 6ish months the business hosting this particular event has been vandalized with hate speech posters, protestors scream or use bullhorns to tell children they’re in danger while calling their families and other attendees every vile name they can think of. Last month they threatened people with pepper spray. This month they threatened us with death. And every month, we as a community create a barrier, a Wall of Love, to block their view of this tiny wonderful bookstore and the people inside. What started small has steadily become a growing gaggle of gays LGBTQ+, allies, Leather Men and Women, puppies, kinksters, drag kings and queens, and more. We try to not engage because we don’t want to feed into their hate. Instead, we stand strong together. Sometimes we lock arms and turn our backs. Sometimes we sing and dance. Sometimes we have a cookout! We turn it into something full love and support for those who just want to come to hear a story told by an amazing performer. We show up and show out EVERY. DAMN. TIME. Because these families and their kids deserve to feel safe and deserve a space they can be themselves.
I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. It’s not. In February of this year, a man with a gun showed up during a DQSH at a Houston, TX public library AFTER being banned from the premise the month before. Just over a week ago we saw a teen-focused Pride event in Jacksonville FL canceled just days before due to the influx of hate being directed towards the library that was hosting. Thankfully that community also stepped up with a church jumping in to hold the teen event and UNF hosting the DQSH both hosted by Bebe Deluxe. These are just a very tiny few of the incidents surrounding DQSH but there are so many like this out there and worse.
This is why we fight.
This is why we won’t be quiet or just fit in.
This is why we will keep standing arm in arm shielding hate with a Wall of Love.
Pride month may be June but the fight that started with the Compton’s Cafeteria and Stonewall is still raging today and we can not afford to sit by idly.
Want more resources on how you can support your local Drag Queen Story Hours? Though focused on libraries/librarians The American Library Association has some amazing toolkits and resources on their Libraries Respond: Drag Queen Story Hour or visit https://www.dragqueenstoryhour.org/ for more information on how it all started and how to get involved! Also, if you’re in the Tampa Bay area check out the Wall of LOVE Events on Facebook.
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