Last Saturday, a group of parents and their children gathered at a bookstore in Silver Spring, Md., for a drag queen story hour. Such events, where, as the name implies, drag queens read stories to children, have become popular around the country – despite frequent howls of protests from Christian Nationalists and others.
This event, taking place in a private venue called Loyalty Bookstores, should have been non-controversial. But a group of extremist “Proud Boys” showed up and tried to disrupt it. WRC, a local television station, reported that members of the Parasol Patrol, a group that provides support for drag queen story hours, blocked the Proud Boys from accosting families and patrons and managed to keep the protestors out of the bookstore. WRC reported that members of the Parasol Patrol “were kicked, had their feet stomped on and that one volunteer was punched in the face.”
Who Are The ‘Proud Boys’?
If you’re not familiar with the Proud Boys, this description from the Southern Poverty Law Center may be of interest: “Rank-and-file Proud Boys and leaders regularly spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists. They are known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Proud Boys have appeared alongside other hate groups at extremist gatherings such as the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Former Proud Boys member Jason Kessler helped organize that event, which brought together a broad coalition of extremists including Neo-Nazis, antisemites and militias.” Proud Boys also were heavily involved at the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and some of their members are facing trial.
Police responded to the event at Loyalty Bookstores, and although no one was arrested, officers have promised to be on site at future drag queen story hours.
That response will probably be necessary because Proud Boys are increasingly targeting drag queen story hours. The Washington Post reported that prior to 2022, less than 1% of Proud Boys protests were related to drag events; such events now account for 25% of Proud Boy protests. Unfortunately, that number will probably grow as Christian Nationalist groups inflame the situation by urging state legislators to pass laws banning or restricting drag events. Clearly, this issue is the latest front in the right’s long-running culture war.
Parents have a right to be concerned, given the Proud Boys’ fondness for violence and street brawling. Members of this movement are intolerant, hateful, ignorant and violent – and they’re not above terrorizing children’s events.
That’s nothing to be proud of.
Photo: A drag queen story hour in California. By Jonathan Moore.