Sunday afternoon’s Drag Queen Story Hour drew more than 100 attendees, with supporters and protesters picketing and praying outside the Lexington Park library as children listened to stories read by the performers, crafted paper crowns and had their faces painted. One protester was arrested for allegedly disrupting the event.
The Southern Maryland Area Secular Humanists and PFLAG Leonardtown, the nonprofit groups that organized the story hour, rented a library room to host two drag queens, male performance artists dressed in theatrical women’s clothing.
Ashley Kyle Morgan, a 42-year-old Leonardtown resident, was apprehended by St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputies after he was observed running into the meeting room just as the event was beginning, addressing the children present and telling them, “do not believe these lies” told by “men in dresses,” prompting discord as parents tried to calm upset and some crying children.
Morgan was then placed under arrest, handcuffed and transported to the St. Mary’s adult detention center. He has been charged on five misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, failure to obey reasonable/lawful order, resisting arrest and trespassing at a public agency, according to court records.
“It’s a private event, you have to be registered to do it. Obviously you can’t cause a disturbance to prevent what’s going on in the room, which is what happened,” sheriff’s Capt. Steven Hall, commander of the agency’s special operations division, said at the library Sunday.
According to court documents, Morgan “had preregistered for the event but for the drag queen makeup session which did not start until” 3 p.m. An officer warned Morgan he was not permitted in the room until the time of his registration, but he entered at around 1:50 p.m., documents stated.
“Y’all ready to listen to a story?” said Samantha McGuire, president of the Washington Area Secular Humanists and coordinator of the group’s Southern Maryland chapter, after police escorted Morgan out of the building. “There’s one in every crowd,” she said, garnering applause from those in attendance.
The story hour commenced, with performers Nicholas Hebb, who goes by Angelica Lize, and Stormy Vain, who declined to provide his real name, reading books like “Free To Be Incredible Me” by local author Joelle-Elizabeth Retener, “This Day in June” by Gayle Pitman and “Neither” by Arlie Anderson.
“I like letting her read to me because I really like all the fancy outfits,” 7-year-old Ainsley Watters said, adding that she felt “happy and excited” when Stormy Vain asked her to stand up and show off her bright pink outfit.
“My favorite part of the story time was all staying together as a family,” Ruby DeMarco-Logue, 6, said.
McGuire said, “Overall, the kids had fun, which was the whole point. It seems like everyone that was in the room had a good time.”
As the event carried on, picketers stood on either side of the library, separated by police tape. Protesters displayed signs, some of which declared “God has something better for you,” while a few others espoused homophobic rhetoric.
Protesters gathered outside peacefully held a prayer vigil, with no further incidents between the groups. Jeremy Linehan, who joined the vigil, said he was there “so that the light of Jesus may shine on those who are lost,” to nods of agreement from those around him.
On the other side, supporters of the event blew bubbles, played The Beatles and Elton John, and held up colorful signage stating “Men in dresses telling stories is the foundation of Christianity,” and other messages of support for the LGBTQ community.
“It’s important for me that my children see different facets of society and understand that even if someone looks different than them, they’re still human beings,” Mary DeMarco-Logue, Ruby’s mother, said.
“Mr. Morgan’s actions were inexcusable. In today’s climate in the US, of nearly daily gun violence, to have a man charge, yelling at the top of his lungs, into a room of children and families was frightening to say the least,” McGuire wrote in an email Tuesday.
“I place partial blame on the critics of the event that whipped Mr. Morgan into violent Christian extremist rage over some people reading books to kids.”