By: Nessa Purdy
On Sept. 7, Books Inc. hosted their second annual Drag Queen Story Hour. Books Inc, an independent bookstore in Campbell’s Pruneyard Shopping Center, invited drag queen Tori Tia for a story hour to read children’s books to a group of Campbell’s youth. All proceeds from the sold-out book reading went to Silicon Valley Pride, an annual event celebrating the LGBTQ+ community throughout Silicon Valley.
Despite previous objections, the story hour went on as planned, but as the event began, about 20 to 30 people gathered outside of the bookstore in protest. However, many also gathered in solidarity with Tori Tia and Books Inc. Throughout the reading, a wall of people formed around the windows of Books Inc, holding pride flags and blocking protestors from seeing inside the store.
The reading also sparked controversy last year when a group of anti-LGBTQ protesters forced themselves into Books Inc, and interrupted the story hour in front of over 20 children. Before this year’s event, Silicon Valley Pride explained that a group of people consistently sent numerous hate messages containing transphobic and homophobic slurs. In an Instagram post shared by Tori Tia a few days before the reading, she wrote, “We don’t care if your kids are Queer or Trans, nor are we trying to force them to. We care that they know they are loved, and that they have a community that will love and support them no matter what.”
Protesters claimed the story hour was “grooming” the children. One protester explained, “We’re bringing little innocent children that have not formed their minds. I pray for the children that they don’t have nightmares.” Onlookers could see the protesters holding signs reading “Protect Kids’ Innocence,” and “We don’t hate, we object!” and shouting “Stop grooming the children.” Those who attended to support Silicon Valley Pride and Tori Tia believed they were there to introduce their children to a variety of different lifestyles and be open to learning about different people.
In a statement, Tori Tia explained, “I know in my heart and soul I’m not doing anything bad, I’m not doing anything inappropriate in front of children.” When asked how she felt while reading to the kids, she stated, “I just got really nervous because I took a moment to look outside and it just made me really anxious. But again, like last year, I just had to focus on the moment and focus on that everything around me was OK and I got through it.”
Silicon Valley Pride stated that despite the protest, they will not stop hosting story hours or other pride events in the Bay Area.
(Sources: NBC Bay Area, San Francisco Chronicle)
Categories: Local News