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Drag Queen Story Hour is coming back to South Carolina library after earlier backlash

It’s back — the Drag Queen Story Hour will return to a library in South Carolina despite backlash from the community that nearly derailed an event earlier this year, organizers said.

This time, there is a new location and shorter notice to the public.

The free event — designed for drag queens to share books with children — will be held Sept. 22 at Headquarters Library in Spartanburg, nearly 30 miles north of where the first event took place in Greenville, according to the Facebook invite.

“DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive role models,” the event description states. “In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.”

Spartanburg County has a positive history with LGBTQIA-identifying people, Natalie Shaik with Mom’s Liberal Happy Hour SC told McClatchy news group Friday.

The group of South Carolina women was an original sponsor of the event and is hosting this time in partnership with Drag Queen Story Hour Upstate SC and The Greenville Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Abbey of the Grand Palmetto.

Shaik said Spartanburg also has an LGBTQIA outreach community center. Since her group focuses on Upstate, she said she hoped they could reach a broader audience there.

The first story hour in Greenville took place in February — but not without complaints, The State reported.

Outraged community members called for its cancellation, which briefly came to fruition when it was discovered the event had violated library system policy with its online invitations.

The library ultimately approved a new event application and reinstated it.

But protests and a police presence accompanied the event, with one library manager later leaving the job and county officials perturbed by a $48,000 bill for security measures, Fox Carolina reported.

“The protest wasn’t as gigantic as we thought it was going to be the last time,” Shaik said.

One South Carolina Republican lawmaker even moved to defund libraries that host events like the Drag Queen Story Hour, according to The State.

Shaik said they’re trying to avoid the tumult that rocked the first story hour, in part by waiting to post the event until everything was in order.

The invite went out Thursday at noon — a little more than a week in advance.

They are also in full compliance with library protocols, she said, and as of Friday had no plans to include a police presence at the story hour.

Not that it was in their control last time, Shaik said.

“If it was up to us, there would have been no protesters and no police either,” she said.

Residents are still not entirely pleased with the Drag Queen Story Hour’s return farther north, though, with more than 1,100 online commenters replying to initial news reports about the event.

“This is so wrong on many levels,” one person wrote. “Why would a parent take there (sic) child to this to start with.”

Several said they would never “subject” their own children to such an event.

“The bible is clear on this, should not be allowed and everyone should boycott,” another resident said. “Don’t expose children to this.”

But Shaik said she thinks the positive comments might be outweighing the negative ones this go-around.

“I think it’s a waste of time to try and fight something that involves people that want to come and really be happy,” she said.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.
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