SPOKANE, Wash. - Hundreds of people flocked to the Spokane Public Library on the South Hill Saturday ahead of the first Drag Queen Story Time. Of those hundred, many were in support of the event, while others were there to protest.
"Why do you have to have makeup that looks like a clown," said Shawna Hamilton, who was opposed to the reading. "It's degrading to us women."
Hamilton said that she was there as a part of the 500 Mom Strong crowd, a group formed when the DQSH was first announced. The group has compared wearing drag to black-face and the reading as akin to sexually abusing children.
"The kids are going to be confused, they are going to be sexually confused," Hamilton said.
Many people showed up to protest, but the crowd drew more supporters. Nonetheless, the gathering stayed peaceful under the watchful eyes of the Spokane Police, who were there in large numbers.
"I want our children to grow up and learn to be loving and accepting of all kinds of people," said Andy Castrolang, a supporter of the event. "This is a celebration of people and diversity."
Castrolang said that protesters claiming that it's wrong to introduce children to drag at a public facility, shouldn't feel the need to come.
"If this is not for you, it's not for you," Castrolang said. "Leave us alone, so that we and our children can have a good time."
Counter-protesters said that isn't how it works.
"Not coming shows we are ok with it, and we are not ok with it," said Hamilton. "I don't want to see it a public library, which is supposed to be a safe haven for kids."
In response to critics who say they aren't open-minded, Hamilton turned the tables.
"Why can't they be sensitive to our needs," Hamilton said. "Why is it a one way street?"
Parents in support of the event said they were excited to share the experience with their children.
"We love the fabulousness," said Alicia West, who thought the event was overdue. "We love drag queens."
West said she was worried about the fact that the counter-protesters, claiming to be protecting children, were actually yelling obscenities at them.
The Spokane Public Library will continue DQSH next weekend at their downtown location at 2 p.m.
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