Hundreds Gather in Royal Oak to Support Drag Queen Story Time
(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 11, 2023)
Royal Oak, MI – When Pleasant Ridge Mayor Bret Scott heard there were going to be protestors at a Drag Queen Story Time event in Downtown Royal Oak, he knew he had to come and stand in support of the bookstore, the readers, and the children. He was one of about a thousand people that crowded onto the corners at Fourth and Washington Saturday afternoon in front of, and down the blocks around, Sidetrack Book Store in response to about twenty people who had come to protest the store’s event.
The Oakland County Republican Party sent out information to members before the event. ” The OCRP encourages adults to attend this protest. Every seat that responsible adults take allows one less child to be victimized by these events.”
“Human sexuality is a personal and sensitive issue. Children, who by definition, are not yet mature physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually and are exceptionally vulnerable to the predatory behavior of adults. Drag queen storytime is an exercise in normalizing what is not normal, and can be upsetting, scary and confusing to a young child. Why would we applaud or celebrate a practice that propagates this agenda,” said the Party’s press release.
When word got out on social media, those in support of the LGBTQ+ community showed up, with a lot more people, and a lot more rainbows in their signage.
“We can’t let what is happening other places happen here, so it’s very heartwarming to see people come out and support this effort to be kind to everyone,” Scott told Oakland County Times. “The phrase Liberty and Justice for All is under attack and we’ve got to do the right things here.”
Scott found a spot among the sea of rainbow swag and signs near a woman from Royal Oak named Christina Trecapelli.
“This is my favorite bookstore,” Trecapelli said. “I think it’s unfair for people to come out here and protest, especially when they’re not even from this community, and they want to have a say about what’s happening in a private establishment. People that care so much about rights, certainly have a strong feeling about impeding on someone else’s.”
Gender Identity Network Alliance President Michelle Fox Phillips also attended. “We are here to support the Queens. We are here to support the queer community,” she said. “I am so overwhelmed with the turnout. I really am. Ten years ago this never would have happened. Even five years ago. This is just so heartening.”
As parents and children lined up outside the shop, lighted billboard trucks playing “Proud to be An American” circled the block, showing digital signs of Jesus, mixed with images of drag queens, and anti-drag sentiments. Escorts with bright vests who normally walk with women and doctors at pro-choice clinics guarded the doors and helped protect families as they wove through the crowd into the door. The Royal Oak Police were on hand as well to keep the peace.
There were so many kids that not everyone was able to go in. So the drag queens outside had children gather in smaller groups, for story time right on the sidewalk. Even in the midst of a noisy crowd, the children’s’ faces lit up when a drag queen with a giant pink wig and a fuzzy striped top read “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie,” while a pal with turquoise hair held the mic.
A recent Drag Queen Story Time had gone off without a hitch, but in light of the call for protestors, the owners of the shop – Jenny Carney and Jen Brown – kept the store closed Saturday, only letting in the readers and the families. They shared a picture on Facebook of the trio of drag queens and the book.
Downtown Royal Oak and the Royal Oak Library both shared support for Sidetrack on their social media pages. “Downtown Royal Oak is a place where LGBTQ+ people are celebrates, and people from all walks of life are welcome to enjoy themselves. We applaud Jen and Jenny of Sidetrack Bookshop for their commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and we will continue to support them, and all of our business owners in Downtown Royal Oak who are doing good and meaningful work.”