There will be no drag queen performances for young children at the Soldotna Public Library on Jan. 6 after considerable public outcry led LGBTQ activists to indefinitely “postpone” the story hour event.
The so-called “family friendly,” sponsored by the radical activist group Soldotna Pride Council, was to be part of the first-ever “Happy New Queer” winter celebration of all things LGBTQ.
Among the six entertainers listed as “guest drag performers” for the event, one openly gay man – Andrew Castelli – goes by the stage name “Ivanna Kischacok.” He’s a mainstay at Alaska gay bars, regularly donning blond wigs, gaudy evening gowns, fishnets and thigh-high boots while flaunting fake cleavage to the delight of his clientele.
In announcing the event was postponed, Soldotna Pride Council issued a Jan. 2 statement, claiming the group felt unsafe about going forward.
While several local groups and individuals had planned to protest the event with a peaceful sit in, it’s not clear what sort of specific threat the LGBTQ organizers were concerned about.
“The Soldotna Pride Council strives to provide safe spaces for all people, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community,” the group posted to Facebook. “Freedom to assemble and express one’s self is guaranteed by the First Amendment, thus, everyone should feel safe, secure and comfortable being their authentic selves and not live in fear of attending a public event in our community. It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to postpone the Jan. 6 story time in the Community Room at the Soldotna Public Library.”
Without going into any specific instances, Soldotna Pride then asserted that it was “aware of the violent rhetoric on social media and elsewhere toward readers and participants who plan to attend story hour, and we are choosing to prioritize the safety of those children and families.”
The statement ended with a pledge to reschedule the drag event in the future.
“We would like to thank Chief Meek, the City of Soldotna, the library staff, the volunteer readers and The Queen’s Guard for their support,” the group stated. “We apologize to the families who planned to attend and assure you that we will hold inclusive story times in the future.”
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Soldotna Pride does, however, plan to go forward with two other events on Jan. 6 – a performance at the local grocery store, The Goods, and “Queer Karaoke” at The Bow Bar.
While the library agreed to host the now postponed drag queen story hour, a disclaimer from Soldotna Pride noted the library did not officially endorse the event or the organizers’ viewpoints.
Traditionally, LGBTQ groups have focused their energies on promoting various sexual identities and expressions via parades and events scheduled across month of June. In organizing a January event, Soldotna Pride is signaling that it now plans to expand its public displays and celebrations of LGBTQ sexuality.
This is not the first time Soldotna Pride has attempted to appeal to young children in promoting various sexual identities and expressions. The group’s annual “Pride in the Park,” has become an event in which radical LGBTQ activists parade through town before gathering at a local park for “all ages” variety shows that include sexually suggestive drag queen dancers, costume contests.
Last year’s event sparked heated controversy after a video of Anchorage drag queen Brenden Badd went viral. It shows a man wearing a costume that appears to be a miniskirt and a thong as he twerks and does backflips in front of young children. Another performance included Badd in a leather miniskirt gyrating just a few feet in front of minors.
— To contact Soldotna City Librarian Rachel Nash, call (907) 262-4227 or email email@example.com.
— To contact members of the Soldotna City Council, click here.
— To contact members of the Library Advisory Board, click here.