Huntington Woods Rallies to Shield Drag Queen Story Time Visitors
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 26, 2019)
Huntington Woods, As toddlers and parents arrived to the Huntington Woods Library Drag Queen Story Time they walked down a pathway lined with the supportive smiles and signs of nearly 300 people who showed up to shield them from what was expected to be a large protest against the library’s monthly event.
The community began coming together in December after emails sent to the press revealed a plan for out of state anti-LGBT groups to protest the story time, as well as an email by then-councilperson Allison Iversen encouraging someone to get more people involved in speaking out against the library’s program Over 150 people attended the Dec. 18 City Council meeting to speak in support of Drag Queen Story Time and to question Iversen about her role in encouraging protestors to come to the city. However, Iversen resigned before the meeting.
The momentum continued as the community braced for the protestors to arrive. The City closed the library and recreation center early and closed off the parking lot so protestors could gather there.
However, few actually did.
At the library steps, a handful of Church Militant members, based in Ferndale, huddled together and said prayers. At the end of the wall a group of men, including one who wore a Wayne County Sheriff’s sweatshirt and another wearing a “Make America Great” hoodie stood quietly observing. And in the center of the sidewalk were about six “Warriors for Christ,” led by Gabriel Olivieri, who used a megaphone to talk about the Bible and what he called God’s hatred for homosexuality, the feminization of women, Muslims, feminists, and transgender people. The group is based in West Virginia. He picked out individuals from the crowd and mocked them, shouting that they deserved to burn in hell, that they were destroying families, and even that their signs looked unprofessional. “You are disgusting,” he shouted. “You should be ashamed.”
The man’s shouts were loud through the megaphone, but the crowd’s chanting muffled some of the harsh words. “Go home,” they said. “Go home.”
One little girl, Chloe Smart, asked her dad, “Why is that man yelling?” Chloe and her little brother Julian held a two-sided sign that said “No Hate No Fear” on one side and “Everyone is Welcome Here” on the other. Their father Jason replied “Some people have different views, and yelling isn’t the best way but he is allowed to have his opinion just like we are allowed to be here to share our views too.”
Chloe and Julian were looking forward to being read to. “I like books and its fun and nice having people read to you,” Chloe said. She said they were here “to support the person who is coming because they are special and they are nice to read to us.”
As 15 year old Max Scanlan and his dad Dan walked from the crowd of supporters towards their car, the younger Scanlan said “This is amazing Dad, thank you.”
Like many in the crowd, Dan wore a rainbow-colored hat to signify support for diversity. Max had never been to a protest before, and the outpouring of love and support from the crowd warmed his heart.
“Gay pride is personal to me,” Max said. “I came out a couple of years ago, and it’s part of my identity. I find a lot more support than hate. But the hate is out there. Usually it’s a comment or something like that. This is the most public hatred I’ve seen. How can people say those things to other people? It’s disheartening. It makes me think there are places where people are not accepted. But there is so much more love and support, it makes up for it.”
Huntington Woods City Commissioner Joe Rozell said “this is a great turnout. The number of Huntington Woods signs outnumber the dozen or so individuals that came from out of state.”
Mayor Bob Paul added “This is a local issue and our residents have made it loud and clear this is a program they all appreciate… We’ve had overwhelming support from our community.”
A group of Pleasant Ridge resident walked to the library to show their support. Pleasant Ridge does not have a library, so residents pay taxes towards a contract between Pleasant Ridge and the Huntington Woods Library for use of their facility.
“The Pleasant Ridge community wanted to rally today and support Drag Queen Storytime because we believe so strongly in its mission of inclusion and literacy,” said Pleasant Ridge City Commissioner Jason Krzysiak. “The cold weather couldn’t keep us from helping foster the wonder and the awe and the acceptance inherent in these readings. We will continue to support the Huntington Woods Library and this important programming and return with our banners and enthusiasm if need be.”
“Drag Queen Story Time is part of Huntington Woods, and it is not going away,” Mayor Paul said.
Drag Queen Story Time Supporters Pack Huntington Woods Meeting Dec. 19, 2018
Huntington Woods Commissioner Resigns Early in Midst of Drag Queen Story Time Pushback, Dec. 18, 2018
Huntington Woods Hosts Michigan’s First Drag Queen Story Time, More to Come, Dec. 15, 2017