Drag Queen Storytime in Louisville increases security after threats from White Lives Matter

FILE: Drag Queen Storytime Louisville
FILE: Drag Queen Storytime Louisville(WAVE News)
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 3:57 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Drag Queen Storytime Kentucky said there will be more security at an upcoming Louisville event following possible threats received from a White Lives Matter organization.

The LGBTQ organization scheduled a “Drink Coffee and Read with a Drag Queen” event at the No Kill Louisville Animal Rescue and Pet Food Bank on Sunday afternoon.

The all ages event is used to celebrate and promote pride within the community.

“Right now, that’s under fire,” Drag Queen Storytime Kentucky Vice President Jamie Goulding said.

On March 19, Drag Queen Storytime Kentucky posted on Facebook that the group had been shown evidence that a White Lives Matter group would plan to travel to Kentucky to protest and scare guests.

The event will be their largest one since last October. It was going to be at the Old Louisville Coffee Co-op.

“They were the ones who were tipped off. They got calls specifically threatening their location and their space,” Goulding said.

Pictures were shared of a conversation on a White Lives Matter Telegram channel targeting Sunday’s event.

Goulding said many of the threats aren’t as bad as some of the one’s they’ve gotten in the past, but they’re still taking them seriously.

“The threats vary,” Goulding said. “It’s ‘we’ll be there. We’ll protest. We’ll be there and make you fear us,’ it just varies. It’s hard to get a hold of some of that information and make sure that it’s vetted, but we are just taking every precaution and every measure to make sure that families that do come are safe.”

Several other drag queen events in the United States have seen similar protests after multiple states have introduced legislation to ban or restrict drag show performances.

The state of Tennessee became the first state to restrict drag performances on public property.

A similar bill in Kentucky, Senate Bill 115, would ban drag performances on publicly-owned property and anywhere minors are present. It has passed the Senate and has moved to the House for approval.

Within the past week, an Eastern Kentucky drag show event was canceled after a business owner received death threats and claims that members in the LGBTQ community who attended the show would be harmed, according to sister station WYMT.

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear commented on threats received by the two Kentucky events, stating violence and threats “are never justified.”

“The use of violence to try to push your views onto others is wrong,” Beshear said. “It’s wrong in any and every circumstance. Calling people or writing to them and saying you’re going to cause them harm because they are different than you? Listen, my faith tells me that’s absolutely wrong.”

The event is now at the No Kill Louisville Shelter warehouse.

“It’s on private property, and it’s fully gated,” Goulding said.

Drag Queen Storytime Kentucky said they did not plan to back down from threats and instead planned for increased security for the event.

“Let’s be perfectly Queer about this. We will not be canceling our event. We will make our presence known,” the post reads.

On Wednesday, another nonprofit organization offered assistance to shield children who may be attending the event from protesters.

The Parasol Patrol, a group that has appeared at other LGBTQ and Black, Indigenous and people of color events across the country, said it would be creating a visual barrier to walk children and families past potential protesters.

“We’re honored to support the Kentucky Drag Queen Story Time,” the group said in a post. “We will create a visual barrier with our rainbow umbrellas and welcome guests to the venue and if need be escort them past protesters.”

Parasol Patrol said the organization does not engage in speaking or counter arguments with hate groups, instead offering support to children and young people to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

Drag Queen Storytime Kentucky said it is calling on the community to show up for Sunday afternoon’s event.

“Please help make our presence known that we will NOT HIDE from anyone,” the post reads.