Protesters gathered in Gerritsen Beach on June 6 to express outrage over the appearance of a drag queen at a reading event for children, which they said would be detrimental to the welfare of minors.
“I was rather appalled by it simply because I really feel that it is not just a diversity issue but a morality issue,” said James Bickle. “It’s especially bad because it’s an indoctrination of little children.”
The event, which hosted Angel Elektra at the Gerritsen Beach library, was part of a citywide series to connect members of the LGBTQ community with New York City youth.
“Drag Queen Story Hour captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity in childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models,” read the event’s promotional material.
Bickle, who has lived in Sheepshead Bay for 23 years, said he wanted to discourage parents from bringing their children to the event.
“Parents should at least be confronted with the truth. They don’t know what they’re doing to these little kids,” he said. “It’s perverting them. It’s unnatural.”
Bickle, who repeatedly made clear that he would have no problem with an African-American story teller, said a queer narrator was simply a step too far.
“I would also have a problem if it were a gay person. And it’s not that I hate gay people. I actually have compassion for them, and I want to help them out this lifestyle,” he said. “I think its a choice.”
Counter-protesters also gathered outside the library, setting up a clash between the two factions.
One drag queen, who came out to support the event, said the protesters were less than unwilling to engage in a proper dialogue.
“The protesters were very difficult to reason with on any level,” said Barry D’Ellive “The self-appointed head of the group had a megaphone, and just put on a siren whenever he didn’t want to talk.”
For his part, the megaphone-wielding man claimed the drag queen supporters simply lacked open-mindedness.
“They were very vulgar, and they were nasty. They showed me very little tolerance, and very little love,” said the man who asked only to be identified as Tag.
Tag, an 11-year resident of Sheepshead Bay, took issue with the library’s tax-payer funding.
“At best, it’s irresponsible. At worst, it’s state-sponsored child abuse,” he said.
D’Ellive said the storytime event was perfect for combating the mindset of people like Tag’s.
“Drag queens have been almost inextricably linked to promiscuity and sexual misconduct, and something as mundane as storytime is going to help diminish that stigma,” said D’Ellive.
Through the commotion, NYPD officers cordoned off the entryway to the library, where the event went off as planned.