APEX, N.C. (WNCN) — On Monday, the Mayor of Apex announced the removal of a drag story hour for kids from the lineup of Saturday’s Pride Festival. In a turn of events, Apex Pride has a new sponsor as of Thursday and the drag story hour will be included in the festivities.

In a statement from the new sponsor, Equality NC, the organization said the change-up will “ensure that our community members in Apex have every right to gather and celebrate.”

Further, the organization said it is proud to stand with the organizers of Apex Pride, who they said are “a group of resilient and amazing LGBTQ+ individuals and families.” In partnership, the organizers and new sponsor are excited to invite attendees into the day centering around a common theme—celebration.

Originally removed by the Apex Festival Commission, the drag story hour was canceled due to “violent threats,” according to Apex town council member Audra Killingsworth.

Apex Pride 2021. Photo courtesy of the Town of Apex.

Some of these threats extended to the Chair of the Apex Festival Commission. He told CBS 17 that two threats received by phone threatened to harm him and his family if the drag story hour took place on Saturday.

The Apex Festival Commission has since made a statement in response to the transition of event sponsorship.

The message said, “There was a meeting this morning regarding Pride fest logistics. As a result of the meeting, the Apex Festival Commission has withdrawn its application for the event. The town of Apex received an application from Equality NC this morning to serve as the sponsor. Apex town staff is working with both organizations to ensure a transition that is as smooth as possible in order for us to have a safe and successful event.”

Additionally, Apex Pride co-founder DeAnna Conrad said she fully supports the reinstatement and thinks that people should give the reading a try to learn more about what it can truly offer.

“I think if people came and see it for themselves, they would have a very different opinion of it,” Conrad said. “The books that this group chooses are books of anti-bullying messages, inclusion and diversity. It’s a really good message and at the same time they’re really interactive with the children.”

Other organizers agreed and said it’s a true educational opportunity for kids.

Additionally, in a Thursday release, the executive director of Equality NC issued this statement:

“Pride is first and foremost about our community. It has always been about our collective voices, our stories, our resilience and our hopes. What we saw in Apex was an attempt to invade our spaces, to silence us, to disperse us, and limit our freedom to be ourselves in our community. We were extremely disappointed in the actions of the Apex Festival Commission that allow provocative and misinformed complaints to target and attempt to cancel this Pride event.”

“We are proud to join in support of the Apex Pride organizers and see this event take place. We will not be silent and we will not be forced back into a closet. We look forward to celebrating with our community this weekend, and to honor the long history of Pride as Protest, making space for us, about us, even when they try to silence us. We’re proud to say, we’re here, we’re queer, and we will see you Saturday!” 

Kendra R. Johnson, Equality NC Executive Director

Apex Pride will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Apex Town Hall campus. In addition to the story hour, there are many more events that make up the festival including live music, food trucks, games, crafts, a kids zone, activities and performances.