The organizers of Houston Drag Queen Story Time have decided to shut down the event entirely due to public safety.
‘When we launched Houston’s Drag Queen Story Time in September 2017, it wasn’t to much acclaim,’ organizers Trent Lira and Devin Will wrote in an op-ed for the Houstonia.
They explained they only had about five children at their first several readings. Then a TV feature on the event aired in July 2018 and suddenly they garnered much more attention.
‘As it happened, though, the segment coincided with a City Council meeting at which at-large member Michael Kubosh condemned our program,’ the pair wrote.
‘We got our first protesters that same month, July 2018. Texans Against Transgender Tyranny, they were called.
‘They were peaceful and civil. […] It disturbed us, but what could we say? They were standing outside and politely informing the public that there were drag queens in there reading to children. It was their right. It was not a threat.’
Following their first protesters, things began to escalate.
Mired in controversy
In October 2018, a group of anti-LGBTI Christians sued the event. They claimed taxpayer dollars should not fund the event, which was held at the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood public library.
A judge eventually threw out the lawsuit earlier this year. US District Judge Lee Rosenthal determined the group failed to prove the event was causing any harm or misusing public funds.
Not long after the lawsuit died, there was another incident surrounding the event.
Police arrested a man trespassing on the library’s property during Drag Queen Story Time. The library previously banned the man from entering, and when police arrested him, he was carrying a concealed weapon.
Making the decision
‘This is when we decided, along with the team from HPL [Houston Public Library], that it would be best to temporarily move the story time out of the Freed-Montrose,’ the op-ed continued.
They moved the event to private property. HPL continued to promote the event and provide books.
Then, last Friday, news broke that a former reader of the event was a sex offender.
‘We didn’t know about the conviction prior to last week, but it would have come up if a background check had been conducted. It was a systematic mistake,’ Lira and Will explained.
Another drag queen was misidentified as the offender in question and began receiving harassment.
‘What started as a fun community event shared between us, a couple of drag queens and kings, and a few families has become a national controversy. People are being threatened. People are being hurt. We believe in what we’re doing, but we don’t believe in putting our friends, our families, or our children in danger.’
The op-ed concluded: ‘Let us leave you with the words we used to end every story time: We hope you enjoyed your stay. Outside the sun is shining. It seems like heaven ain’t far away. It’s good to have you with us, even if it’s just for the day.’