Town Cancels Drag Queen Story Hour Pride Event After Threats of Violence

A North Carolina town has canceled a planned drag event after receiving threats of violence on social media.

The town of Apex, North Carolina, had been planning to host a Drag Queen Story Hour as part of the "kid's zone" for its upcoming Pride Festival on Saturday. Over the weekend, however, Mayor Jacques Gilbert announced on his Facebook page that the event was being called off. Gilbert claimed in the post that the Apex Festival Commission had made the decision after "careful consideration" of "feedback" he had received from town residents.

သင်၏ သူငယ်ချင်း၊ မိသားစု၊ သင်သိသောသူများနှင့် စတင်၍ ချိတ်ဆက်ပြီး မျှဝေရန် Facebook သို့ လော့ဂ်အင်ဝင်ပါ။

Town Council Member Audra Killingsworth commented on Gilbert's post, saying that the town had received numerous complaints about the event leading up to the festival, and that recently they escalated to full-on threats of violence, The News-Observer reported.

"Because of those threats, the commission decided to pull the Drag Queen Story Hour from the kids zone," Killingsworth explained. "I'm disappointed and frustrated, but I do want to have an amazing Pride event that is still going to feature drag performances on stage."

drag queen story hour canceled pride festival
The town of Apex, North Carolina, had to cancel a planned Drag Queen Story Hour for its Pride Festival after allegedly receiving violent threats. Above, a representational shot of a Drag Queen Story Hour in Los Angeles. David McNew/Getty Images

On Monday, Gilbert added a comment on the original post calling out "hate speech" and disabling further comments.

"I appreciate the engagement regarding this matter," the mayor wrote. "However, I will not tolerate disrespectful comments attacking others and hate speech on this page. Therefore, effective June 6th at 10:20 am, I will be disabling comments on this post after several days of observing hate speech on this post."

Gilbert also used the comment to address criticism of the decision and pledged his continued support of the local LGBTQ+ community.

"Despite the misinformation represented throughout the comments above, I will continue to love all members in our community as represented in the Pride proclamation that I was the first mayor of Apex to sign," he added. "I have very close family members of the LGBTQIA+ community who I love dearly."

Drag Queen Story Hour is an organization that works with schools, libraries, bookstores, and pride festivals to run drag queen readings for children and families. Per its website, the organization aims to capture "the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood" and create" glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models."

"Drag Queen Story Hour is saddened to hear about the Mayor's decision to cancel one of our chapter's events," Jonathan Hamlit, executive director for Drag Queen Story Hour, told Newsweek. "Unfortunately, receiving violent threats and hate is a daily part of the queer experience. We hope this sheds light on the ongoing battle against homophobia and transphobia in the world. We are excited and proud about the many other events Drag Queen Story Hour Triangle Chapter will be hosting throughout Pride Month."

Several commenters on the post expressed disappointment with the cancellation of the event.

"Where's the courage and support for the LBGTQ community?" user Ellen Abelman Dershowitz asked. "I was at the Pride festival in Wilson, NC. They were not afraid to have Drag Queens present, they did not suffer because of it. A small NC town is more progressive than Apex, NC. I am truly disappointed in our town leadership."

"This is very disappointing. Several places in the Triangle have DQSH. It's a great organization!" user CarrieAnne Krall Hermosillo added. "It's also disappointing that the very vocal minority of non-inclusive folks feel so threatened by something they don't even understand that they, in turn, threaten their neighbors and fellow Apex residents. Those being so vocal weren't even going to attend the event anyway!"

Newsweek reached out to the Apex Festival Commission for comment.

Updated 6/6/22, 5:40 p.m. ET: This article was updated with a comment from Drag Queen Story Hour.