A small group showed up to protest Drag Story Hour in West Hollywood against a larger group of over 50 people rallying in defense of the event, which took place on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at the West Hollywood Library. The opposing group dwindled to one person standing by himself on San Vicente Boulevard while holding a sign that read, “leave kids alone”.
The group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) gathered support in short notice after learning that right-wing groups planned to protest the event. The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department sent a notice to community members informing of the two planned protests that were scheduled to start at 9am, leading up to Drag Story Hour, which started at 11am.
The protest was peaceful for the most part in the beginning. At one point one of the protesters tried to enter the Drag Story Hour space and he was rushed by supporters of the event, which led to a ruckus inside the library.
A video later surfaced on twitter by journalist Samuel Braslow, which shows the one opposing protester getting punched in the face while Sheriff deputies stood by and did nothing.
The activist continues trying to pass by the group of counter protesters. A counter protester punches him; the sheriffs deputy only says “stop fighting” before walking away.
The activist then runs into the library instead of leaving, contrary to what he told deputies. pic.twitter.com/lwnjV2lLjM
— Samuel Braslow (@SamBraslow) April 15, 2023
The group Free Mom Hugs showed up to hopefully de-escalate any potential violence. “We’re out here because sometimes our presence, our loving supporting presence is called for,” said Valencia Foster, the State Chapter Leader for Free Mom Hugs of Southern California. “Someone reached out to us to ask if we’d come out to make sure that we provide that positive presence in light of protestors trying to shut down Drag Story Hour. What is happening with the current legislation is so hurtful, so we’re here to bring positivity and let people know that they matter and that drag is an art. Drag is entertainment. We support it.”
Drag Queen Pickle, the host of Drag Story Hour, came out to try to scale back the protest away from the children who would be attending the event. She wanted it to be a positive experience for them and was afraid that it would be traumatizing for them if a fight broke out during the event. The advocates moved away from the library and stayed on San Vicente Boulevard. They shouted at the one protestor who did not seem to care that he was outnumbered.
“It’s always wonderful to get support from the community.” Pickle told WEHO TIMES. “What we’re really looking for is support from families and bringing their children to this community. We like to avoid large scenes with detractors who are really looking for their moment. While we appreciate the support, it’s actually better to engage with the program and attend the event and being a part of it.”
Drag Story Hour returned to the City of West Hollywood on April 15, 2023. The series of story time readings by drag performers for children of all ages is presented by the City of West Hollywood in partnership with the West Hollywood Library.
Drag Story Hour was created by Michelle Tea and RADAR Productions in San Francisco in 2015. In 2017, the City’s Arts Division funded the first Drag Story Hour at the West Hollywood branch of the LA County Public Library. The West Hollywood series is produced by Pickle the Drag Queen.
2023 Drag Story Hour
Saturday mornings at 11 am:
All readings take place in the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd.
Editor’s note. This piece was updated to include video footage of a protestor getting punched in the face to conclude that the protests were not as peaceful as it first seemed.