STORY HOUR- Angel Elektra reads to children during a Drag Queen Story Hour at Webster Branch, The New York Public Library
Photo courtesy of the Drag Queen Story Hour
By Carla Charter
WATERVILLE, ME.- A Drag Queen Story Hour which is scheduled to be held at the Children’s Book Cellar in Waterville, as part of Pride Weekend 2019 in is causing a backlash in the community.
The idea for a story hour came when the bookstore’s owner, Ellen Richmond, saw a similar story hour modeled at Children’s Institute (a program of the American Booksellers Association) about a year ago and thought it would be a fun program to hold to increase awareness of diversity.
“Here in Central Maine, we don’t have much diversity…or it’s hidden away in safe corners. It’s important because we need to embrace diversity: POC, LGBTQ, Muslim, Somali, whatever. Everyone deserves love and respect. We can’t get to that point until we understand and accept,” Richmond said.
However there has been backlash to the event “The backlash has been astounding. I expected some, but had no idea how much hate and vitriol would be thrown at me and the LGBTQ community. I’m a straight as a plumb line, so I have not had to suffer the abuse the LGBTQ community faces all the time. My eyes have been opened. I wish the Drag Queen Story Hour could open some minds.”
Among those speaking out against the Drag Queen Story Hour is the mayor of Waterville himself, Nick Isgro. He posted on his personal Facebook page and Maine Conservative Grassroots Group “Scandalizing the children in our community — trying to make us San Francisco. Unanimous vote to celebrate by our entire council!” The Waterville City Council unanimously approve a resolution declaring June 2 Central Maine Pride Day. The New England Times has reached out to the mayor regarding his comments but has not heard back.
To those who are upset about the story hour Richmond said. “If you don’t approve, don’t attend. But don’t try to force your opinions on others. I wish some of the haters would attend (without their children if they’re afraid for them) just to see what it’s all about. Maybe some of them would realize that it’s innocent fun, to let children see that there are all kinds of people and this world and that they all deserve respect and the right to live their lives without abuse.
The Drag Queen Story Hour will be held at the Children’s Book Cellar on June 1 from 11 a.m. to 12;30 p.m. Richmond continued she hopes to make the story hour an annual event during Pride Festivities in Waterville. I do hope to make DQSH an annual event as part of the Pride Festivities here in Waterville. “