A weekend drag queen reading event for kids at a local library will go on as scheduled, even in the face of angry phone calls and a possible protest.
The "Drag Queen Story Fun Time" with drag queen Annie Christ is still happening Saturday at the Lansdale Public Library despite opposition from conservative Christian groups who say she promotes anti-Christianity.
The event has been scheduled for about a month, but only in recent days have groups come out against it, Christ said, adding that she has received threats of violence. "I've gotten some pretty gross, nasty, violent stuff directly toward me," she said.
Steve L. Piotrowski is one of the men who has organized a "prayer gathering and rally" at the library at the same time as the reading event. In a statement, he said the name "Annie Christ" is a play on "anti-Christ" and therefore represents a form of religious discrimination.
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"As a Lansdale Public Library donor, I am concerned along with everybody else that the library is taking on such a politically controversial issue - especially when receiving tax dollars," Piotrowski said in a statement to NBC10.
The event, however, is not actually officially sponsored by the library or the city, the chief of the Lansdale Police Department said. Christ qualified to rent the library space and passed a background check to do so.
"The library is open to everyone," Tom Meyer, the director of the library, told NBC10.
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And, Christ said, the event is not as controversial as Piotrowski makes out. "I get so many messages every day of people being supportive and it's so refreshing," she said.
Instead, most of the furor has been coming from out of town, according to the LPD chief, who added that officers will be at the library to make sure any protests don't get out of hand.
In Lansdale itself, where Christ has lived for the last five years, she says she's received an outpouring of support.
"I'm so proud of Lansdale. I could not be more proud of the community and just the outpour of support that I'm getting. It's really great," she said.
She intends to push ahead with the reading event and has even used the attention and increased interest to make it double as a food drive for local charity Manna on Main Street.
She also plans to talk with Piotrowski, who reached out to her saying he would like a "civil conversation" and that he doesn't "hate" her. Though he also praised Christ for her work to help the hungry in a message shared with NBC10, Piotrowski says he still plans on holding the rally.
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Christ, however, remains undeterred and wants to use the reading event to inspire kids and show them that there's nothing wrong with being different.
"When I was younger ... I was just the odd person out and I thought that something was wrong with me. So I figured I would use this opportunity to tell kids it's OK to be different, it's OK to be weird," she said. "Listen to the music you want to listen to. If you're not hurting anyone, if you're not hurting yourself, then it's OK."
Christ will read two books Saturday: "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed" and "Sparkle Boy." The first title is about a naked mole rat who enjoys wearing clothes, unlike his peers. The second is about a boy who is teased for liking traditionally feminine things and whose older sister initially finds his preferences odd.
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In addition, kids who attend will be treated to snacks and dancing and coloring activities.