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Norwalk drag queen event for children draws protestors

Members of Free Mom Hugs welcome people to Sunday’s Drag Queen Story Hour in the Norwalk Public Library, steps away from protestors (shown above).

“Anita Mánger” reads to children Sunday in the Norwalk Public Library. At right is “Frankie Cyanide.”

NORWALK, Conn. – Most days, the Norwalk Public Library is a quiet place. Sunday afternoon was a different story.

About 30 people stood outside the library, clustered around a statue of the Virgin Mother Mary, repeating “Hail Mary” over and over again, refusing to say anything to passersby. Upstairs a drag queen and king read picture stories to children and their parents in the packed second-floor auditorium.

Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story

“The purpose of this event is to have a fun story time and give a message of love and acceptance,” said Vicky Oatis, NPL Director of Children’s Services, as she began the library’s second Drag Queen Story Hour.

Norwalk Public Library Director of Children’s Services Vicky Oatis kicks off Sunday’s Drag Queen Story Hour.

To the protestors downstairs, the drag event was teaching “even the littlest children that biological sex means nothing, that sex is just ‘assigned at birth,’ that people can be any gender they want, and that ‘It’s OK to be gay.’”

“These are all LIES. This is child abuse,” the flier from MassResistance continues.

MassResistance describes itself as a leading pro-family activist organization, based in Massachusetts but with support in all 50 states. The protest is part of a pattern, as the group states on its website, “Across the country we’ve exposed the obscene sexual nature of the ‘Drag Queens’ – and even criminal backgrounds of some of them. And we’ve helped parents organize and strongly confront the public officials behind this outrage.”

At least two of the men outside the library appeared to be Catholic priests. Norwalk Board of Education member Barbara Meyer-Mitchell asked one of them what church he was from, but he kept walking, stone faced.

Many protestors appeared to be from out of town, and as they repeated their prayer, members of Free Mom Hugs greeted visitors warmly and welcomed them to the story hour upstairs.

From left, State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling and “Anita Mánger,” Sunday in the Norwalk Public Library. “The reason why I love this city so much is because we are a city of diversity,” Duff said. “We are a city that loves we are a city that brings people together and we want to also read. Right kids?”

Natalina Santozzi of Free Mom Hugs said she had traveled here from central Connecticut because, “We heard there be some protesters so we were here to just affirm and support anyone coming in.”

“Free Mom Hugs is a group of affirming parents and allies who love the LGBTQ+ community unconditionally,” the group’s website states. Santozzi said it has Board members throughout Connecticut.

The “drag queen” event actually included a drag king. All read books from the library’s collection, on the theme of being different.

That includes Not Quite Narwhal, the tale of a unicorn born in the sea and believing himself to be a narwhal until fate shows him the truth. The unicorn fears he’ll be rejected by both groups but then coasts to love and acceptance.

While that was being read by “Frankie Cyanide,” the king of the trio, the protestors downstairs dispersed after the man leading the event ended the praying and said, “God already has destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah once. They’ve been trying to rebuild it since. God will destroy it again.”

The protesters were advised to pray for the people upstairs, the world and for the end of abortion.

Protestors pray, Sunday outside the Norwalk Public Library.

One protesting woman told NancyOnNorwalk that she’d been dragged to the event by her employee but added, “You’re wrecking your children.”

Upstairs, “Robin Fierce” had made a flamboyant entrance, then read “The ABC’s of Identity,” a book written by Norwalker Karen Brown.

“In this world there are many ways that certain people have more privilege than other groups of people, or certain groups are treated unfairly,” Fierce said. “This can be based on gender, on who you love, on the color of your skin, where you’re born and a lot of other things. Because (of) this people get hurt, in a lot of ways.”

“Kindness is when we treat people with goodness,” Fierce said. “It can be generous, thoughtful, honest – allowing yourself to feel what another person feels and accepting people for who they are. In other words, lots of people don’t take the time to understand others and that helps create a world where only certain groups of people get hurt, but being open and being kind is the only way we can learn to in harmony with people of different identities, like we are all here today. We’re all being kind to each other have a good time, right?”

Fierce, Cyanide and Anita Mánger then performed for the audience. They were swarmed by children and adults seeking to have their photos taken with the dragsters.

“Robin Fierce” arrives for the Drag Queen Story Hour.

Casey Fitzpatrick, owner of Troupe429: Bar & Performance Space, which co-produced the event with the library, said the first Norwalk Drag Queen Story Hour was held in July. The performers, who appear regularly in his bar and all live and work in Fairfield County, then did a show at the Stamford library. They’ll be back in Norwalk in July and will do another Stamford story hour in October, he said.

“LGBTQ parents encounter many discriminatory hurdles during their child’s development. Drag Queen Story Time celebrates our differences and uses literature, imagination, and a few sequins to bring families together,” Fitzpatrick wrote Monday. “For children growing up that feel different, opportunities like Drag Queen Story Time can show them that being themselves is OK and that our differences should be celebrated.”
Fierce said she started doing drag after coming out, as part of exploring LGBTQ culture.

“As a person who struggled with my identity my whole life, I wanted to be able to do this with children. Be, like, ‘Hey, it’s OK to just be who you are and do what you do.’ And this teaches kids acceptance and shows them something different, even if this isn’t what they’re going to be at the end of the day,” said Fierce, 24.

The highlight of the event was walking by the protestors, she said, explaining that he’d been warned not to but was running late and chose the shortcut.

She said, “They didn’t say anything to me, and I’m just like, ‘Yes, take my power back.’”

This story was copy edited at 1:22 p.m. to correct an error: Anita Mánger, pronounced Anita Manager, is correct. At 1:41 p.m., more information was added.

27 comments

tara January 27, 2020 at 8:29 am

One brave drag queen tells the truth about drag and why it’s not for kids. https://twitter.com/demure_kitty/status/1218697036515532800
“Would you want a stripper or a porn star to influence your child? It makes no sense at all. A drag queen performs in a nightclub for adults. There is a lot of filth that goes on, a lot of sexual stuff that goes on. And backstage there is a lot of nudity, sex, and drugs. So I don’t think this is an avenue you would want your child to explore,”
“I understand you might want to look like you’re ‘with it,’ that you’re ‘cool,’ ‘that you’re ‘woke,’ that you’re ‘not a Nazi,’ that you’re not a ‘homophobe,’” continued Demure. “But you can raise your child to be just a normal, regular, everyday child without including them in gay, sexual things.”

Kathy Leeds January 27, 2020 at 8:49 am

Bravo, NPL!
Teaching our youngest (and their parents) acceptance, understanding and respect for others is so important in this world of increasing bigotry and discrimination.So glad you got a large turnout for this wonderful program.

Mike Mushak January 27, 2020 at 9:33 am

These protesters, who are so-called “Christians” even though any serious theologian of any faith knows Jesus would surely have rejected their expressions of intolerance, also support the “conversion” of gay folks to straight orientation with therapies like electro-shock treatments and chemical castration.

These harmful “reparative therapies” never work but certainly have been proven to increase depression and suicide among its thousands of victims. So much for their “Christian” principles.

Personally, we believe that God made me and my husband David gay and that She also gave us many gifts to share with the world which we try to do every day of our lives, the same as these talented and creative drag performers are sharing their gifts of words with children and adults just as the Bible describes:

Proverbs 16:24:
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

It might be best if these strangers who showed up in our diverse and wonderful community of Norwalk to spread hate and division might take these words from the Bible to heart, to “let all things be done for building up”:

1 Corinthians 14:26
“What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.”

We wish these protesters peace in their souls, but they must know their message of intolerance in Norwalk will fall flat and they are just wasting their time.

We can only pray that they might learn to spread the message of Jesus by filling hearts with love instead of hatred, which is exactly what the drag performers were doing by sharing their “gracious words” just as the Bible describes.

We thank God we live in such a beautiful and diverse community. Let’s all work together to keep it that way!

John Levin January 27, 2020 at 10:09 am

What a great event for Norwalk, its children and families – even with the Westboro Baptist Creep Show outside. Both my kids would’ve loved this. Next time.

Aaron M January 27, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Great article! FYI though, her name is “Anita Manager”, not “Anita Job”. Otherwise I love the content!

Sharon Pistilli January 27, 2020 at 2:13 pm

I guess the people praying forgot about the Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself part. There is no asterisk next to this!

Alanna January 27, 2020 at 2:24 pm

As one of the free mom huggers present yesterday, I enjoyed reading your article. Very balanced. Thank you

Ellen Hart January 27, 2020 at 4:46 pm

Free Mom Hugs CT was proud to stand up for our LGBTQ+ community and help to welcome the families arriving for Drag Queen Story Time. We hope that our presence helped to prevent any of the kids and parents from feeling intimidated or harassed by the protesters. It was a lovely event, fun and celebratory! Thank you for covering it, Nancy!

Harold Cobin January 28, 2020 at 4:06 am

Both police officers actively patrolled outside and inside the library before and during the event. The scene of them in the video happened to catch them as they met together briefly at the entrance to the library. Persons protesting and those attending the program thanked them for being there.

Jalna Jaeger January 28, 2020 at 10:33 am

They got the “Pray for us sinners” line right. God creates you as you are, gay or straight or somewhere in between. None of us CHOSE our sexuality! We were born that way. Story time does not turn us into something we are not. If that were true, I would have been turned into a princess as I mostly read Fairy Tales as a child.

John Levin January 29, 2020 at 9:44 am

“There were 80 people praying and they were not from a Baptist Church.” Well, either you don’t understand metaphor, or I was simply too subtle. Maybe search “Westboro Baptist” and see what you get?

Re: “80 people”. Does the quantity of people praying effect the outcome they seek, or is this intended to simply help the people engaging in the activity feel better about themselves? If it’s the former, please consider praying for peace and tolerance in our world?

C January 29, 2020 at 4:59 pm

Just hope Connecticut does not go the way of Missouri, where there is a bill being considered that will jail librarians who host drag queen story hours OR allow young people to check out lgbtq-themed books. The drag queens are rallying alongside the librarians there.

MarjorieM January 30, 2020 at 12:35 am

The drag queens were there to inspire a love of reading and to acquaint children with the beauty of diversity. Their motives were pure. The LGBTQ community should be welcomed and respected. Shame on those who fear people who are different from themselves. Step out of your comfort zone and talk with this wonderful community. You might learn how sensitive, loving and special people-who are different-can be.

C January 30, 2020 at 4:43 pm

Maybe people from the protesting group would like to spend some REAL time with the kids and read to them from books in the library’s wonderful collection? There are so many excellent picture books about treating everyone with kindness, regardless of differences.

Christine Bisceglie January 31, 2020 at 1:44 pm

Thank you Norwalk ! As a member of the queer community and a librarian , from the bottom of my heart I say thank you to those who have responded on NON in support of the Norwalk Public Library’s Drag Queen Storytelling program. It makes me so proud to live in Norwalk. It is not easy to stand up in the face of hatred yet it is becoming more and more important to do so. The positive views that you have shared here , have helped even me become more open minded and accepting ! I love Norwalk.

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