Regina Blake Dubois thought she’d spent a normal Saturday reading to kids — in drag, of course. It wasn’t until after the monthly Drag Queen Story Time that she was aware a protester had attempted to get inside while carrying a gun.
It was Blake’s second time reading to kids as part of queer band Space Kiddettes' monthly Houston event, and she was well aware that the event garnered the ire of conservative Texans. When Dubois showed up on Saturday, there were about 30 protesters outside, “but there were just as many people on the other side of the barricades helping welcome kids and families and make them feel comfortable,” the queen tells Out. “We had over 100 people come to the storytime, so it was good to know that the people outside were definitely outnumbered and the love overpowered everything.”
But James Greene was not feeling the love when he walked into Freed-Montrose Neighbourhood Library early Saturday afternoon, just before the event was about to start. Greene had already been banned from entering the library after being removed for trespassing the previous month. The library’s manager called the police and escorted Greene from the building, and Houston-based LGBTQ+ magazine Out Smart reports that he was carrying a concealed weapon.
“A manager asked us for assistance because [Greene] was banned from the library, and would not leave when he was asked,” Houston Police Department representative Jodi Silva said of Saturday’s incident in a statement. “He was previously banned for filming children at the library, and has been known to cause disturbances. Several officers had to escort him out.”
No charges were filed on Saturday against Greene, who hosts a conservative radio show called Raging Elephants Radio, though according to the most recent episode of his show, police still have his weapon.
Dubois explains that the event is highly secure, and that the day Greene attempted to enter the library there were at least 10 police officers on the scene. “The people who run the event ask the queens not to go outside because they don’t want to antagonize anyone or cause a scene.” Due to the high amount of protestors, drag are escorted into the library through a backdoor. Police officers are stationed not only at the entrance to the library but inside, guarding the room where storytime takes place. All of this so that queer entertainers hoping to brighten a child’s day can be kept safe.
“The kids always get a kick out of it when we’re there, but also the parents that bring them in speak so highly of us and how they appreciate that they have this opportunity to see this other form of artistic expression they were never exposed to when they were younger,” says Dubois. “It’s cool to be able to not only help open the minds of people involved but showcase what we do.”
When Dubois learned that Greene had attempted to enter the event while carrying a weapon, she wasn’t surprised, “and that was the thing that hit me the hardest [and] made me the most unsettled. Of course the guy who wanted to come out and protest, saying we were in there molesting children and spreading the negative word, of course he was carrying at the time because naturally that’s what people do,” she says sarcastically. But Dubois says what she’s left with isn’t fear, it’s “empowerment to want to do this, to want to do more and help spread a positive message and not let that negativity he was trying to bring.”
It’s important for Dubois and the other queers involved in Drag Queen Storytime to change people’s misconceptions about drag queens. “Drag Queen Story Time gives us the opportunity to showcase that we’re regular people — who put on a lot of makeup and get in costume — but we’re regular guys, some of us are girls, we do our thing and we are there to put a smile on a child’s face.”