Attorney General Letitia James hosted a drag story hour “read-a-thon” at the LGBT Center in Manhattan on March 19, drawing supporters and some opponents who flashed signs outside of the venue.
“The recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ protests, rhetoric, and policies has left New Yorkers — myself included — devastated and disappointed,” James said in a written statement after the event. “But I know better than anyone that when the choice is between love and hate, between joy and venom, New Yorkers will always choose love, and New Yorkers will always choose joy.”
The event at the LGBT Center, which is at 208 W 13th Street, brought out LGBTQ elected officials from different levels of government, including Assemblymember Tony Simone and Councilmembers Erik Bottcher and Crystal Hudson. Among allies in government, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, and Assemblymember Grace Lee were in attendance.
“I am proud to have been joined by my colleagues in advocacy and government today in celebration of the love, joy, and family fun that Drag Story Hour brings to our communities,” James added. “Hate has no home in New York, and I will always fight to ensure our LGBTQ+ siblings’ rights are upheld and defended.”
A collection of LGBTQ organizations and elected officials joined in to support the event. Sean Ebony Coleman, the executive director of the Bronx-based Destination Tomorrow, thanked the attorney general for leading the event.
“Drag story hours promote diversity and inclusion, and are intended to spark children’s interest in reading,” Coleman said in a written statement. “We have to stand up to those who have politicized something joyful and educational. The weaponization of drag story hour is a tool to vilify the community and further promote violence against and discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals. We will continue to celebrate all identities and refuse to let our joy be taken away.”
Drag story hour events have played out similarly across the city, with supporters and opponents facing off near venues hosting drag story hours. The attacks on drag story hour have also led to attacks on elected officials — including Bottcher and Krishnan — who have backed drag story hours in their respective districts.