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Anti-LGBTQ Activists Again Call for Houston Officials to End Drag Queen Storytime

Mayor Sylvester Turner, Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen defend program.

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For the second time in as many months, anti-LGBTQ activists spoke in opposition to Drag Queen Storytime during Tuesday’s Houston City Council meeting.

Members of MassResistance Houston, a chapter of a Massachusetts-based hate group, urged council members to end the monthly program of the Houston Public Library, alleging that drag queens reading picture books to children is inappropriate.  

“Drag queens are planting seeds of destruction,” MassResistance Houston organizer Linda Garcia said during Tuesday’s public session. “Children must look up to positive role models. I demand you to end DQST because their standards erode the decency in our community.”

In addition to Garcia, nine other MassResistance supporters claimed that Drag Queen Storytime (DQST) should end for several reasons, including that it allegedly promotes an LGBTQ “lifestyle” and that the library’s programs are funded by taxpayers.

City Councilman Michael Kubosh, who has been a vocal critic of DQST since July, said Tuesday he believes Mayor Sylvester Turner should halt the program until tests are done to measure the psychological effects on children.

“The website says that the city library is paying for Drag Queen Storytime,” Kubosh added.  

Turner responded by saying that DQST is organized by volunteers at no cost to the city.

“The library is not paying for anyone,” Turner said. “[Drag Queen Storytime] was requested by the patrons of one library, where parents bring their kids to one site. To intentionally lie is below the dignity of this house.”

Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Cohen responded to the anti-LGBTQ activists by repeatedly pointing out the difference between drag queens and transgender people. She also dismissed the assertion that LGBTQ want to groom children as a fear-mongering lie.

Tex Christopher, co-plaintiff in a lawsuit against Turner and the Houston Public Library over DQST, demanded at Tuesday’s meeting that Cohen resign for saying Nov. 27 that instead of attacking the LGBTQ community, people should fear religious leaders who harm children.

“Ellen Cohen, I want a public apology from you today or I want your resignation,” Christopher said. “It is evil to attack a mighty man of god.”  

John Miller, a 16-year-old white male who spoke in opposition to DQST, claimed that he struggles with “age and racial dysphoria.”

“I identify as a 35-year-old black male,” Miller said. “Drag Queen Storytime takes away the natural way of thinking that a child is blessed with.”

At least eleven LGBTQ activists attended the public session wearing rainbow-colored wristbands, but they did not speak in favor of DQST. Instead, they urged the council to approve an ordinance that would provide the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County with $130,000 for planning services.

At a Houston GLBT Political Caucus meeting last weekend, organizer Brad Pritchett asked members and allies to speak in favor of Ordinance 16 instead of addressing DQST, because the funds would positively impact homeless LGBTQ youth.

The Caucus’ strategy also reduced the time allotted to DQST opponents. According to City Council rules, if the total time requested by speakers at any meeting is greater than 150 minutes, each is allotted one minute instead of three.

Those speaking in favor of Ordinance 16 included Montrose Grace Place Executive Director Courtney Sellers, Kindred Lutheran pastor Ashley Delgacama, and Equality Texas transgender programs coordinator Lou Weaver.

“Homelessness is a real crisis in Houston, in particular for our LGBTQ youth,” Pritchett told the council. “The funds being proposed would help the coalition with strategic planning, which we know would have a positive impact on LGBTQ youth homelessness.”

“There’s a lot of hate in the world, and a lot of bigotry,” Pritchett added. “Even in 2018, there are people who prefer to spend their time attacking LGBTQ people, calling us mentally ill, comparing us to criminals, saying who we are is a choice, but for LGBTQ youth, sometimes coming out means homelessness.”  

The next installment of DQST is set for 1 p.m. on Dec. 29 at the Houston Public Library’s Freed-Montrose branch. The Houston GLBT Political Caucus, along with other LGBTQ-affirming groups, plan to support DQST outside the library during the program.

Watch Tuesday’s City Council meeting below.

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Lourdes Zavaleta

Lourdes Zavaleta is a staff writer for OutSmart magazine. She recently graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in journalism.

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