The Houston Public Library’s Drag Queen Storytime will not continue this month or in the foreseeable future, according to the program’s organizers.
In an op-ed piece for Houstonia Magazine, Trent Lira and Devin Will, who also lead the band Space Kiddettes, announced they were stepping down and that the monthly event would not happen during March or after.
“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,” the Space Kiddettes said in a statement. “People are being threatened. People are being hurt. We believe in what we’re doing, but we do not believe in putting our friends, our families, or our children in danger.”
This announcement came just days after news broke that a former Storytime reader was once convicted of being a sex offender and that the Houston Public Library failed to complete a background check on her. The Space Kiddettes called the incident a “systematic mistake” because the performer read in September and background checks were not enforced until October, after protesters filed a lawsuit against Mayor Turner and Houston Public Library executive director Rhea Lawson.
“She was part of the storytime before HLP started enforcing background checks for every performer, and hasn’t been back since they started,” the Space Kiddettes said.
The Houston Public Library’s Drag Queen Storytime launched in September 2017, and flew under the radar until KHOU-TV highlighted a July 9 installment at the Heights Branch featuring drag queen Blackberri.
City council member Michael Kubosh complained about Drag Queen Storytime during the Council’s regular meeting on July 17. Protesters stood outside of the Houston Public Library’s Montrose Branch for the first time during that month’s storytime on July 28. At each subsequent program, protesters and counter protesters positioned themselves outside of the library.
After the lawsuit concerning Drag Queen Storytime was thrown out by a Houston judge in January, members of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Mass Resistance began calling for city officials to put an end to the program. The Houston Public Library also began hosting back-to-back storytimes that month to accommodate a growing number of attendees.
On January 26, a protester with a concealed handgun was arrested after he refused to leave the library during a Drag Queen Storytime. In February, the Space Kiddettes and the Houston Public Library decided to move the program out of the branch to the LGTBQ-affirming church Kindred Montrose.
The February 23 storytime went smoothly, and the next program would have been scheduled for the end of March. However, due to a series of events, the Space Kiddettes believed it was best to step down as leaders, which will put Drag Queen Storytime on pause.
“If another person or persons wants to continue our effort or host their own event at some point down the line, they have every right to do so, and it’s likely somebody will. Drag Queen Story Time belongs to everyone, not just the two of us,” the Space Kiddettes said.
UPDATE: The Houston Public Library said in a March 22 statement that it is taking this time to reorganize the Drag Queen Storytime and that the program should be back in Montrose in the summer of 2019.
Read the Space Kiddettes op-ed piece here: www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2019/3/19/drag-queen-story-time-houston-public-library-sylvester-turner-freed-montrose