Several Mobilians went before their city council on Tuesday to express their disapproval of an event set to take place at the Mobile Public Library on Saturday, September 8, where a local drag queen will read to a group of children.
“The reason I’m here today is because of a matter that’s very heavy on my heart,” Mobile resident Lisa Strong explained to the council. “Upon finding out about the Drag Queen Story Hour at the Mobile Public Library, I became greatly disturbed and saddened,” proceeding to read from a passage in Psalms which directs its audience to guard themselves against obscenities and sexual filth.
Drag Queen Story Hour has raised significant public and media attention in recent weeks, with some hoping for it to be canceled.
The event will feature local Mobile drag queen Wade Brasfield, aka Khloe Kash, who will read two books to the children attending.
One of the books to be read, entitled “Stella Brings the Family,” is about a little girl with two dads.
“It is not a battle of hatred and is not a battle of small-mindedness,” Strong said of her decision to speak out against the event. “It’s just time to take a stand for God.”
Some members of the council addressed the event as First Amendment issue, arguing that it would be wrong to cancel Drag Queen Story Hour because some in the community disagree with its message.
“Let me just say this: that the umbrella in this city has got to be big enough for all of us to get under,” Councilman Fred Richardson said.
The library’s executive director, Scott Kinney, expressed similar sentiment.
“For us, it’s a free speech issue,” Kinney said. “If we let one group use the library, we let all groups use the library.”
Kinney explained that the library allows any group which meets its basic qualifications to utilize its meeting space. A library spokeswoman confirmed that the group hosting the reading event, Rainbow Mobile, met each qualification.
“We’ve even had a church who started their church using our West Mobile meeting room every Sunday for almost seven months,” Kinney explained. “So we are sensitive to everyone’s needs and that’s what we’re trying to be, is sensitive to everyone’s needs.”
Kinney also reinforced that the event is sponsored by an outside group and is receiving no endorsement from the library itself.
“This is an outside group that is presenting this program,” he said. “It is not the library. We are not co-sponsoring it. We are not providing any funds to it other than the electrical and keeping the building open that would be open [anyway] because we are open on Saturdays [anyway].”
The library does not advertise the event on its website.
Still, Fred Wolfe, a Baptist minister at Mobile’s Luke 4:18 Fellowship, argued that the library is no place for such an event.
“It is wrong to use a public forum like the library for this Drag Queen Story Hour because the library gives it credibility,” Wolfe said at the council meeting.
Strong and Wolfe stopped short of asking the council to put a stop to the event but implored them to consider the event’s moral implications.
“I plead on their [children’s] behalf to examine your hearts and examine your mind and do what’s right for the children of this city,” Strong said.
Bryan Fuenmayor, executive director of Rainbow Mobile, told Yellowhammer News that he embraces the public attention that the event has been receiving.
“We’re trying to turn it into a positive thing,” he said. “This is free publicity.”
Fuenmayor said that his primary aim in hosting the event is to promote literacy.
“Children love being read to,” he said. “We need to encourage reading to our kinds and society. We need to bring back more support for libraries.”
Fuenmayor also said he hopes the event will teach acceptance to the children.
“My ultimate aim, from personal experience, it to curtail bullying in schools,” he said. “A lot of kids, they tend to bully kids who are different from them. So we want to try to prevent that.”
Watch the council meeting here.
Read more about the event here.