Drag Queen Story Hour goes on despite calls to cancel

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - One month after a conservative Facebook personality rallied her 700,000 followers to cancel a Drag Queen Story Hour in Montpelier, the show went on as planned.

Elizabeth Johnston, better known as "Activist Mommy," called for her followers to contact the Kellogg-Hubbard Library and "respectfully express their disgust at the event."

Librarians say they received hundreds of calls from concerned people around the country.

In the wake of Johnston's campaign condemning the national Drag Queen Story Hour organization, multiple story hours around the United States were shut down, including in Ohio and Texas.

More than 130 Vermonters packed into the Kellogg-Hubbard Children's Library in Montpelier to see Drag Queen Story Hour, Saturday. Despite calls to cancel, there were no protesters during the event. Library officials, parents, and the drag queens all say the turnout is a reflection of Vermont's dedication to inclusivity.

"We are here to celebrate diversity," said 5-year-old Nora Rogers of Stowe.

"My 5-year-old practiced saying in the car, 'we're here to celebrate diversity, we're here to celebrate diversity,' and luckily we never had to say that," said Nora's mother, Julia Rogers.

After learning of Elizabeth Johnston's post, mother of two Julia Rogers prepared her kids for resistance as they rolled into the capitol city.

"That's ridiculous, I don't like the idea of anyone from out of state telling us our business here in Vermont, and secondly I thought, 'you know what', that makes me even more strongly feeling like I need to be here today and support the community and support the drag queens," said Rogers.

"I think what we're learning time and time again is that with all of the hate that comes out through social media or through these right-wing activists, it actually brings more attention to our events and lets more people know about the amazing offerings here in town," said drag queen Nikki Champagne.

"And we're reading books that are very inclusive and they're representative of the audience that we're reading them to," added drag queen Emoji Nightmare.

The local duo of Champagne and Nightmare says the national Drag Queen Story Hour organization encouraged precaution in light of intense protests at an event in Brooklyn last month. The queens say they knew they were entering a safe space when they saw supporters proudly holding a welcoming sign on the libraries front lawn. The event drew the highest turnout for the duo since they began doing Drag Queen Story Hour in Vermont.

"The library is the place that welcomes everyone, regardless of their point of view," said Carolyn Brennan, co-director of Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

Brennan listened to the bulk of the out-of-state calls and says she stands by her decision to let the show go on.

"Most of it was from a base of just not understanding what Drag Queen Story Hour is," Brennan said. "We have a variety of different kinds of story hours, and not every program is a good fit for everybody, but hopefully every program is a good fit for someone."

"I thought that it was awesome," said 8-year-old Colton Cronan.

Channel 3's efforts to contact Elizabeth Johnston for comment were unsuccessful.