Approximately 100 protesters and counter protesters rallied outside the Windsor-Severance Library Saturday during the debut of a Drag Queen Story Hour program.
“I think visibility really matters,” said Emily Ambrose, holding a sign featuring the cover of the book “Daddy’s Roommate.” Standing next to her mother, Julia, Ambrose recalled protesting with her mom to keep that controversial book in her Juneau, Alaska elementary school’s library back in the early 1990s.
“I think public choice and access and freedom to information is really important,” Ambrose said. “And so I’m just really proud and grateful that the Windsor library stuck up for, and continued to have, the event.”
On the sidewalk, Sandy Martin of Johnstown carried a sign declaring “Don’t Drag Our Children into Your Lifestyle.” Martin, who has grandchildren that come to the library, said she was protesting the story time because she felt that drag queens reading books to children was inappropriate.
“Children should be children,” she said. “This is an adult issue. It should not be put on … children and especially not from a public library.”
This is the first time the Windsor library has hosted an event like this, said Ann Kling, director of the Clearview Library District. The national program has been held in libraries and bookstores throughout the state, including Denver and Boulder.
“We expected some people to be upset,” Kling said. “But I was surprised by the amount of backlash.”
But, she said, there was also a lot of support for the event, which was sponsored by the group SPLASH LGBTQIA Youth.
Drag Queen Story Hour maxed out the room’s 80-person capacity and there was so much demand that a second event was added for that day. Kling said they will evaluate how things went and whether there is a continued audience for it before deciding whether to host another one.
“We say, ‘we are here to strengthen the community and to cultivate curiosity and enlighten the mind,” she said. “That’s our mission and so we look for things that meet those goals and we want people to have fun and appreciate the library. The library is for everyone.”