June 4, 2019

Demonstrators support drag queen story time


A children’s bookshop in Waterville, Maine, recently decided to host an event featuring two books about inclusion and the idea made people angry. You may be thinking, “Who could have a problem teaching children about inclusion?!” Allow me to explain.

Some background: Children’s Book Cellar wanted to host a children’s book reading with a drag queen as part of the 2019 Central Maine Pride Festival. A Shelf Awareness story on May 14th provided powerful quotes from the Waterville Mayor, Nick Isgro, and Children’s Book Cellar store owner, Ellen Richmond. Isgro is quoted saying that the event is “scandalizing the children in our community—trying to make us San Francisco,” while Richmond defends the event, saying: “I’m not inviting pedophiles in to pet little children. I have one man coming in dressed as a woman to read stories to children, and then we’re going to make wands and crowns.”

There were many more angry posts on the internet that could take up weeks of my mobies, because people on the internet love to battle (shoutout to Peter Daou’s Digital Civil War) but I will instead move forward with details from the actual event. 

Despite all the fuss, the reading did occur on Saturday, June 1. Fifty people attended the reading with drag queen Ophelia Johnson. Portland Press Herald covered the event and noted about 100 additional people were outside the event showing support or protesting the event. The article quotes one of the protesters saying,

“I find it wrong and immoral to bring little kids and to bring them into such a situation where little kids are exposed to what is considered sexuality … They’re too young to be knowing that is going on. The whole LGBTQ thing are pushing their narrative way too much, and somebody’s got to push back once in a while.”

I applaud the Portland Press Herald for also noting that this protester was a member of the protest cluster calling themselves “An End to Child Indoctrination at the Cellar Bookstore,” which the Herald describes as a much smaller group across the street. Emphasis on “much smaller group.”

I want people to read this post and understand that there was more support for this event than opposition. There were 50 people in store, about 100 people on the streets and a much smaller group of a protesters. If you’re a bookseller or a librarian looking to host an event similar to this, don’t be intimidated by this much smaller group! If you’re a concerned citizen that wants to promote diversity, don’t be intimidated by this much smaller group! Thank you to Ellen Richmond at Children’s Book Cellar and all the people that attended and supported this important event, and Happy Pride Month!



Christina Cerio is the Manager of Direct Sales & Special Projects at Melville House.