Protesters trying to shut down a reading event geared toward neurodiverse children at a branch of the New York City Public Library were met by a wall of counterprotesters.
The standoff over the Drag Story Hour event — a popular national storytelling program where drag performers read children’s books at libraries, schools and bookstores — took place outside the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood on Saturday. The event was billed as “storytime with local drag performers adapted to be more accessible to kids with autism and other disabilities.”
Saturday’s protest was just the latest in a string of standoffs across the country from a fringe movement targeting drag events over unsubstantiated allegations of grooming.
The group demonstrating on Saturday brought handmade signs covering a spectrum of issues, with messages protesting everything from fascism to grooming to gender identity.
New York City Council member Erik Bottcher shared images and videos online of the protesters, some of whom he tried speaking with before entering the children’s reading event.
“I want to show you the face of hate, right here in Chelsea,” Bottcher said in a video shared on Twitter, before showing the counterprotesters clad in rainbows.
A representative for the New York Public Library said the event went on as planned and added that the library would continue to offer programs supporting diverse voices.
“This is particularly important at this moment when we are seeing a rise of hate and violence targeting LGBTQ+ communities,” the representative said.