Protest Outside Drag Story Hour on UES Sparks Outrage

drag queen story hour protest

Main image: the 96th Street Library at 112 East 96th Street. Inset: A photo shared on the 96th Street Library’s Facebook page promoting an event featuring “A local drag performer trained by children’s librarians.” Photos c/o 96th Street Library.

On Wednesday, February 1, a group of about a dozen protestors gathered outside the East 96th Street Library between Park and Lexington avenues to voice their opposition to a Drag Story Hour for children.


Police were present and provided a barricaded area alongside the library’s entrance for the demonstrators to assemble. Counter protestors were also present as the event got heated, with lots of foul language getting thrown around right in the pathway of children and their families looking to enter the public space.

“Kids were treated to a cacophony of ‘pedophile’ and ‘groomer’ — both words recognized as anti-LGBTQ+ slurs by the Human Rights Campaign — as they entered the 96th Street Library on Wednesday, according to officials and reports,” wrote Patch.

Talia Jane, an independent journalist from Brooklyn whose work can be seen in publications like The Guardian and Vice, was at the protest, tweeting videos and reports of what she witnessed.

“Happening now: The same group of far-right conspiracy theorists who have been targeting libraries that host Drag Story Hour events, with intent to disrupt services and scare parents, are currently at 96th St. Library,” wrote Jane in her initial tweet. “These individuals also harass & dox City Councilmembers.”

No stranger to protests, Jane was present at the Capitol riot in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021. Her video footage of the event was featured in the New York Times.


In one video taken by Jane, you can hear what appears to be a counter protestor yell, “Get the f*ck away from us.” A protestor in the gated area then screams back, “What the f*ck is wrong with you!” before threatening to come over there to “spit a loogie” on the person. Another protestor behind the barricade can be seen wearing a Trump 2020 scarf with a rainbow flag that had “Gays for Trump” written on it.

Upper East Side City Council Member Julie Menin took issue with the protest, telling Patch, “Children and families should not be forced to be accosted by such vile and vitriolic hatred as they enter and exit the library.”

The protest also got the attention of City Council Member Keith Powers, who represents a section of the Upper East Side. “Hope everyone is safe today from another ridiculous protest on the UES,” Powers tweeted. “If you’re thinking about spending your day protesting a free, voluntary children’s event at a public library: maybe stop and take a long hard look at yourself.”

Most of the responses to Powers’ tweet, however, were not focused on the protestors.

“I have no problems with Drag Queens but it seems a poor use of taxpayer funds,” wrote one Twitter user.

“Oh look at you Keith….supporting a program funded with taxpayer money that doesn’t have any benefits for the taxpayer,” wrote another.

City Council Member Erik Bottcher – who in recent months has been targeted for his public support of Drag Story Hour events – “said Thursday that he’s looking to increase funding for the program in the coming fiscal year,” reported AMNY.

Council members Shekar Krishnan (Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) and Crystal Hudson (Prospect Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill) have been targeted for supporting the events as well.

The New York Police Department responded to what transpired on Wednesday, with a spokesperson saying, “The NYPD works to ensure public safety for every New Yorker exercising their First Amendment rights.”

“The Library is committed to offering programs like Drag Story Hour that are popular with patrons and support inclusive voices,” said a New York Public library spokesperson. They’re also working with the NYPD to work on safety protocols in light of these recent events.


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  1. Lisa Williams February 6, 2023

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