Metro Weekly

Interfaith leaders in California support Drag Queen Story Hour against anti-LGBTQ protest

DevOUT and other pro-LGBTQ groups will hold a "love demonstration" to counter anti-gay protesters at Sept. 10 event

A Drag Queen Story Hour at WORD Bookstore in Jersey City, N.J. – Photo: Facebook.

A group of religious leaders from progressive congregations is standing in solidarity with the performers behind a Drag Queen Story Hour planned for Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the Chula Vista Public Library in Chula Vista, Calif., who are the target of a protest organized by an anti-LGBTQ organization.

The protest, which is being pushed and promoted by MassResistance, an organization that promotes socially conservative causes such as opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, and LGBTQ rights.

MassResistance has organized similar demonstrations opposing Drag Queen Story Hour events in other states. 

Opponents say the event harms children’s growth and development by exposing them to hyper-sexual content and homosexuality before they’re old enough and sending them confusing messages about gender. 

Last Wednesday, opponents and some religious leaders held a rally demanding that the hour-long Sept. 10 event be cancelled.

The event, originally scheduled to be held at the Otay Ranch Library has not been cancelled, but has since relocated to the Civic Center Library branch in order to accommodate a higher-than-expected number of registrants.

But other religious leaders, particularly those from progressive faith traditions, are backing the right of the performers to read books to children. 

DevOUT, an interfaith coalition of San Diego Pride that includes more than 70 leaders and faith groups throughout San Diego County, signed their names to a letter expressing their support and criticizing other faith leaders who oppose the event for “the use of faith as a weapon” to chill the freedom of expression of those with whom they disagree.

“As people of faith, we are committed to raising our children in communities that instill the values of inclusivity, acceptance, charity, and grace,” the letter reads. “These values are at the core of each of our faith traditions. We are greatly troubled to see some of our fellow faith leaders in San Diego and Chula Vista leveling severe opposition to The City of Chula Vista Public Library’s plan to host “Drag Queen Story Hour”, a family-friendly opportunity for members for the LGBTQ+ community to give back to the broader community through investing in the lives of our children.

“Furthermore, allowing our children to interact with Drag entertainers helps to tear down the anti-LGBTQ prejudice and enables LGBTQ+ children and youth to see themselves represented in their community,” the letter adds.

DevOUT, in conjunction with PFLAG of San Diego County and a host of local LGBTQ and progressive groups will also hold a “love demonstration” outside the Civic Center Library from 3-6 p.m. to show their support and to serve as a counterweight to any anti-LGBTQ groups who may descend on the library to protest the event.

“Our commitment to out communities is to create inclusive environments that honor the wholeness of all people,” the Rev. Tania Marquez of Unitarian Universalists of the South Bay, one of the letter’s signatories, said in a statement. “I commend the work of the City of Chula Vista library for their commitment to create inclusive and LGBTQ+ affirming programming. All genders and all gender expressions are whole and holy.”

One of the drag performers, Barbie Q, told NBC San Diego that she appreciated that there are leaders of all backgrounds who are supporting her and her fellow drag queens, but wants the focus to be placed on ensuring the enjoyment of the children who will attend.

“I want to keep space safe and I also want it to be a fun and engaging space for the kids,” she said.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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