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The debate over Drag Queen Story Time at the Huntington Woods Library continues to rage on as both a demonstration and a counter-demonstration have been planned for this Saturday’s session.
The response was immediate when news of the demonstration, organized by fringe groups going by the names of Mass Resistance and Warriors for Christ, was released. A counter-demonstration was quickly organized by the Metro-Detroit Political Action Network and the Motor City Sisters.
“When Warriors for Christ first levied their threat against the library, MDPAN was one of the initial groups contacted for organizing the defense of Drag Queen Story Time, and we’re honored to take up the task,” said MDPAN Media Director Robert Jay. “We strongly support the acceptance of all genders and the promotion of literacy, especially when the two are tied together in a fun event for young children. It is a testament to the courage of the Huntington Woods community, and the queens hosting, that this style of event is becoming a staple not just in Michigan, but across the country.”
TG Detroit is another group calling on its members to come out and be a part of the counter-demonstration.
“TG Detroit, as always, stands with those who support transgender rights alongside all human rights, and in opposition to knee-jerk reactionary dogma that sets up the archaic religious beliefs of some members of society as a standard to which all of us must conform,” said TG Detroit President Samantha Rogers. “Specifically, no one is forced to bring their children to this function. No one is forced to participate. Those who do not wish to view the story telling have the choice not to attend. Those who do attend do so because they choose to. But, typically, this is not enough for the paternalistic and puritanical religious right, who feel it is their right to curtail the freedoms of others and seek to enforce their narrow views on all.”
How We Got Here
Drag Queen Story Time started in Huntingwood Woods just a little over a year ago. It has been a success and both kids and parents alike have praised the program repeatedly. There were no concerns until Nov. 17, when Huntington Woods City Commissioner Allison Iverson wrote a letter to Library Youth Services Coordinator Joyce Krom.
“I know there is a desperate need for people to understand and accept people that are different,” Iverson wrote in part. “I believe using ‘drag queens’ as a means to aid in this process is a mistake. Children are innocent little beings and we, as a society, should be banding together to preserve that innocence for as long as possible.”
Between The Lines revealed in a story last month that Iverson had corresponded with members of an LGBT hate group using her official Huntington Woods email account. The group, called Mass Resistance, features an article on its website about its efforts to end drag queen story time in not only Michigan but also Alaska and New York.
Shortly after creating the ruckus, Iverson resigned her commission seat and moved to Lake Orion.
“I am concerned that City Commissioner Allison Iverson hasn’t had to face the consequence of her actions,” said Julia Music, chair of Ferndale Pride. “Bringing a group to Huntington Woods that endangers trans people and children was not the reason the people of Huntington Woods voted for her. We will come out to guard our lovely drag queens, but these actions would not be necessary if Iverson had been representing Huntington Wood’s citizens with integrity.”
At the center of the controversy is Raven Divine Cassadine, the drag queen who reads to the children. Cassadine said she wishes the demonstrators would “just stop.”
“Love is going to conquer all,” she said. “And in this day and age we have to have acceptance; that’s the only way our culture will survive.”
Despite the prediction of a temperature reaching high of 17 degrees by weather.com, MDPAN is hoping for an enthusiastic turnout for their counter-demonstration. Drag Queen Story Time begins at the library at 3 p.m. Counter-demonstrations hope to be in position starting at 2 p.m. and lasting until about 4:30.
“We’re here to defend the children, their families and the queen,” Jay said. “To that end, we will not allow the virulent bigotry spewed by Warriors for Christ and Michigan Mass Resistance to poison their ears and eyes. We will drown out their hateful words with messages of love, affirmation and probably some Raffi songs. We will cover their hateful banners with rainbow flags and signs letting the kids know, ‘You’re perfect exactly the way you are.’”
The Huntington Woods Public Library is located at 26415 Scotia Road.