Astoria Mayor Bruce Jones and the City Council defended a Drag Queen Story Hour planned for the Astoria Library after two men from Warrenton said Monday they were concerned the event would be harmful to children.

The reading is scheduled for this weekend.

Drag Queen Story Hour

A Drag Queen Story Hour is planned for the Astoria Library this weekend.

“It’s good for all of us to be exposed to people who are different from us, who we might not understand,” City Councilor Joan Herman said.

There is nothing offensive about the reading — “unless you’re offended by men dressing in a dress,” she said.

Herman pointed out that the event will be held in the library’s Flag Room, a closed space away from the main part of the library. If parents don’t want their children to participate, they can easily bypass the event and still use the library.

Drag queen story hours, where a man dressed as a woman reads to children, have become popular at libraries across the country. But they have also been controversial. Many libraries have gone ahead with the readings despite protests.

Last year, a drag queen story hour was one of the Astoria Library’s most popular and well-attended events.

Marco Davis, the performer who will be reading to children on Saturday, grew up in Astoria and is a dedicated community volunteer, Herman and other city councilors said.

City Councilor Tom Brownson said he trusted Library Director Jimmy Pearson’s judgment and thanked him “for allowing diversity to flourish.”

Last year’s event, which occurred during the city’s celebration of Pride Week, was advertised on the library’s Facebook page and triggered no outcry in the community, Pearson said. This year’s event was promoted in the same way.

Pearson is not sure what changed.

Library staff have received a number of calls and messages about the event in recent weeks. The more passionate and, at times, concerning objections have mostly come from people who do not live in Astoria.

Pearson plans to proceed with the reading, but is taking precautions to ensure it is safe for everyone. He has kept city leaders updated and is in communication with the Astoria Police Department.

Both Pearson and Police Chief Geoff Spalding have spoken with the event’s primary opponent, Warrenton resident Miles Rudduck.

Rudduck has been active on social media, campaigning against the event. He has told his followers he wants to end the event peacefully.

Rudduck spoke in opposition to the reading event on Monday, but left City Hall quickly and did not hear the council’s response to his comments. The other man who opposed the event stayed to listen.

“I understand it’s about diversity and welcoming people into our community and making children feel safe. I’m totally 100 percent in agreement with that,” Rudduck said.

His problem seemed primarily to be with where searches of drag queens might lead people, the life of an 11-year-old self-described “drag kid” from New York City and what message the event, overall, might send to children.

City Councilor Jessamyn West, who supports the event, said it was difficult to hear the assumptions that were being made. One man had said the library would never allow a representative of the Ku Klux Klan to speak to children, but they would allow a drag queen.

West said that, unlike the KKK, none of the performers involved in the reading will be passing on a message of hate. But she thanked the two men for coming and voicing their concerns.

“We are here to listen to every side,” she said.

Katie Frankowicz is a reporter for The Daily Astorian. Contact her at 971-704-1723 or kfrankowicz@dailyastorian.com.

(8) comments

Miller Sands

Looks like that moronic sicko Ruddock got both of his Facebook accounts banned by Facebook for hate speech and harassing people online. He deserves more, though, the stupid creep

Jessie Weis

[thumbup][thumbup]I also wonder what the two men were objecting to, but more so, I wonder if they know. I attended last year's reading by Marco. I was meaning to attend with a friend of mine and her not-quite-two-year-old daughter, but I got there late, so sat alone, and was fascinated. Marco is a wonderful reader for children, because he loves people, and truly focuses on the person he is talking to. When a child asks a question, he takes it seriously and answers it.

My favorite part of last year'[s story hour were that the stories were all about accepting people who were different. I have never met anyone who, as they were growing up, did not go through a period of feeling weird, and isolated from everyone else, and the books Marco read last year kindly told the kids that you might be different, but you are still worthy of love. Every child is important, every adult is important.

I am a Christian, and am always blown away by the fact that Jesus did not wait for me to be exactly what the Bible says I should be, before he died for me. He died knowing I would make bad decisions, judge others unkindly, and not follow his direction to "love one another, because the rest of the law hangs on that commandment." He knew I would not live a perfect life and THAT'S why he died for me. Even if you don't like the a drag queen's lifestyle, I don't thiink you have the right to make things up about people. But, how can you be so against someone if you don't know them? You must be making stuff up in your head, imagining that perhaps they are different from you and don't have a brain? I know, folks are gonna say as a Christian I shouldn't be backing homosexuality, but I am not doing that. I am backing an individual who is a wonderful person having the same rights as anyone else. The fact that I have now heard him compared to someone from the Klu Klux Klan, a hate-filled group with a history of hate-filled actions, and pedophiles, (when everyone I know that has been molested was molested by a heterosexual family member or friend) makes me feel like I need to stand up and remind folks about the adulteress brought to Jesus after being caught in the act. He did not condemn anyone. He wrote something on the ground and suggested that whoever had not sinned in their lives should start throwing stones. That's how I feel about these situations, where folks don't know what they are attacking, they just attack. If you have never sinned, I suppose you should stand up and attack. Otherwise, we will wait for you to back off. Before you attack the Drag Queen Story Hour, at least watch one. This is about the kids having a good time, and having their self esteem bolstered. Marco is a sweet, kind man (which you will find out if you speak to ANY of his friends, or probably even any of his aquaintances. It saddens me to hear of people attacking him, and especially when I hear it from Christian's ignoring Jesus #1 commandment because of fear of the unknown.

Robert Johnstone

If grown men want to dress and act as women, we can't stop them. But, I feel sorry for people who choose to subject small children to such confusion. Rather, we should be encouraging our children to identify with strong examples of traditional examples of strong gender

william furnish

As long as no public resources are used to promote this (or any) agenda with a political underpinning I suppose I should voice no opposition. As long as the governing body grants use of the city library to special interest groups on an equal basis, I imagine that is one of the reasons libraries exist - to disseminate information. That, of course, presumes that no laws are broken - which doesn't seem to be an issue here. There is, however, an elderly principle of management and leadership 101 which more or less says: If low standards are set, they will be realized.

Summer Oja

My kids all LOVE Marco so much! As a man and also as a drag queen. Not only has it not caused harm.... it has taught love and acceptance. Don’t be scared gentlemen! Open your hearts and come join the fun. You may learn a thing or two. If not.... just stay in Warrenton and worry about your own library. Astoria is a town for love and acceptance.

Slappy McFerrin

I've known Marco for years. He's a good guy. That said, what's the point of this? If those behind the program really can't understand why it's not appropriate to push such divisive and politically motivated theater with public funds in a public venue, they're not fit for their positions.

Do it in a private venue and take the city out of it entirely. That would satisfy most objections.

Garrett Vance

Slappy McFerrin (hiding behind a fake name due to your bigoted views in a small town, I s'pose?) the whole "they're a great guy but homosexuality is icky" is the most infuriating, backhanded embrace you could possibly offer. The public definitely does understand & embrace drag queen story time across the nation. You're cowardly gaslighting citing "others' objections" when actually it reads as your own bigoted views.

Summer Oja

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