SEATTLE (Reuters) – A drag queen story hour that faced threats of protest from far-right demonstrators in Washington state continued as planned on Saturday with about a dozen children in attendance and a room full of visitors drinking beer at The Brewmaster’s Taproom in Renton, Washington.
“This whole week’s been kind of shocking and kind of crazy because we’ve been doing it for so long and nothing has really happened,” said drag queen story hour host Sylvia O’Stayformore, who has been hosting the event at the modestly sized taproom in a strip mall about 20 minutes from downtown Seattle.
“It’s not like we’re kidnapping children from the locals and making them come and listen to our stories. They are coming with parents who are here to have a good time and show them inclusivity and love.”
Outside the bar, more than 100 people gathered in support of the event, to counter any protesters that might arrive. A band played music for the crowd, people milled about carrying signs, and others circled the parking lot monitoring the area for anyone who might be looking to disrupt the event.
“Right now, it’s great, but this is a stand for tomorrow. This is a stand for the next month when we do story time.” said Deaunte Damper, who came to support the monthly event. “This is a stand for the next time a trans woman is assaulted. It’s a stand for our young youth that are impacted by homophobia and transphobia in our community.”
Earlier in the week on Wednesday, someone fired a large BB-gun round into the front window of the establishment, cracking the double-paned window.
In the hours afterwards, Wake Up Washington, a Facebook group that was initially promoting the event, posted a message stating that the organisers had cancelled it and do not condone violence of any kind. The group has since deactivated their social media page.
The taproom’s owner Marley Rall was appreciative of the turnout but wishes her bar wasn’t the centre of attention in this moment.
Drag queen Sylvia O’Stayformore read various holiday-themed books to kids with a jovial attitude, despite the anxiety it caused for everyone including the parents in attendance.
One parent in attendance, Kelli Stasi, had some reservations about attending the event with her daughter, but ultimately decided to come despite her concerns.
“After other protests where people were driven over, shot, harmed other ways, I was really wondering if I should bring my child.” said Stasi. “But she’s 11, this community is important to her, and coming here and seeing how many people showed up, it was just amazing.”
The Brewmaster’s Taproom plans to hold the event again in January and subsequent months afterwards.