ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A reading program brought LGBTQ members and supporters, religious extremists, and concerned mothers to Loussac Library Sunday afternoon.
Drag Queen Story Hour attracts LGBTQ supporters and religious extremists outside Loussac Library Sunday, June 23. (KTUU)
Anchorage's Drag Queen Story Hour is part of a national movement featuring drag queens and kings who read to and educate youth about gender identity. The program has been controversial in Anchorage for promoting open acceptance and early education of gender identity and sexuality in public places like the Loussac Library.
A drag queen wearing long, curly blond hair with a flower beret and pink gloves introduced the first book to a packed Wilda Marston Theatre.
"This book is created for every single child: girls, boys, and kids who identify as both, or neither," she said.
Several young children sat beside their parents listening and laughing along with the reader. The book was a play on stereotypes that group label children -- for example, it's okay for both boys and girls to like butterflies, even though young and macho boys often refer to the insects as "girly."
While the audience inside enjoyed an entertaining atmosphere, outside it was a completely different story.
A man paced back and forth, shouting to LGBTQ ralliers who there in support of Drag Queen Story Hour that they would "Go straight to hell." A man standing next to him raised a sign reading "Satan rules over all children of PRIDE."
The Queen's Guard of Alaska, a non-violent group promoting peace at public events, brought a much larger crew of LGBTQ advocates. To the bigoted slurs they returned a collective chant: "Sexist, racist, anti-gay... Sorry, folks, it's not your say!"
Queen's Guard president Vincent Feuilles has three step-children of his own. He says parents should open their children to unique perspectives.
"If you hide things from people, and you don't have discussions, and you're not open and honest about things going on in the world, you're sheltering people from whole aspects of life," he said.
On the other hand, mothers who were not part of the extreme anti-story hour crew said young children should not be exposed to gender ideology until they've matured. They said their problem's weren't necessarily with the LGBTQ community, rather with reading to youth about sexuality and gender in a public space.
"Many of these young children, they're not even at an age where they can recite their abc's, let alone grapple with those mature themes," Stacey Lange said.
"This is a public building, not a public program," Emily Kewin said. "My taxes have supported it (Loussac Library) for 40 years. I don't think this is the right form of education for these kids to be receiving."
Drag Queen Story Hour has been a source of controversy in Anchorage before.
There has been no indication that the program will be discontinued as a result of the rally.