APEX, N.C. (WNCN) – Apex Mayor Jacques Gilbert announced on Monday that Drag Queen Story Hour would no longer be part of the Apex Pride Festival.
The festival will be held on Saturday at the Apex Town Hall campus. On the schedule for the festival are: live music, food trucks, activities and drag performances. Also advertised for the event was a Kids Zone with inflatables, games and crafts. Drag Queen Story Hour, which was once scheduled for the Kids Zone, has been pulled from the event.
Apex Pride Co-Founder DeAnna Conard said she was shocked and disappointed to learn the program was being pulled from the kid’s area.
“While it may seem a small part to everything that we have planned for Saturday, it’s very important,” Conard said. “When you have celebrations and festivals of different kinds sometimes it’s difficult to find something that really resonates and involves the children that come. Drag story hour is extremely popular; our children love it, and their friends love it.”
The Chair of the Apex Festival Commission told CBS 17 he received two threats over the phone, stating that if Drag Queen Story Hour takes place him and his family will be harmed. He said that’s why the commission pulled the program from the kid’s area, adding it was the best decision given the information at the time, and not worth the threat of anyone’s life.
Natalie Girouard of Apex has a toddler, and was disappointed to hear what happened.
“It’s a story right, I mean it doesn’t matter who’s telling it, so I think hearing this, I would be a little disappointed that it’s canceled,” Girouard said.
In a Facebook post, Mayor Gilbert said, “It continues to be my goal to ensure that all voices in our community are represented. I have received a variety of feedback regarding the Drag Queen Story Hour at the upcoming Apex Pride Festival.”
Gilbert said he met with representatives from the Apex Festival Commission to share the feedback he received.
“Today I was notified that the Apex Festival Commission has taken the feedback into careful consideration and has decided to remove Drag Queen Story Hour from the event,” said Gilbert. The Mayor said any further questions should be forwarded to the Apex Festival Commission.
While Drag Queen Story Hour was canceled, drag show performances were still allowed to stay on the festival’s schedule.
Mayor Gilbert said in his announcement that the Story Hour was not “originally presented when the event was proposed.” He did not specify the nature of the feedback he received or why those comments prompted a meeting with festival representatives.
One town council member, Audra Killingsworth, shed some light on the situation in a comment she made on the mayor’s Facebook post.
“We have had many emails sent to us at Council complaining about the drag story hour event. Multiple members of Apex Pride have been sent nasty emails, messages, etc. Over the past couple of weeks, it has escalated to violent threats against multiple members of the Apex Festival Commission. Because of those threats, the commission decided to pull the drag queen story hour from the kids zone,” said Killingsworth.
Drag Queen Story Hour is a national organization with chapters in the Triangle and Charlotte. Their mission is to celebrate “reading through the glamorous art of drag. Our chapter network creates diverse, accessible, and culturally inclusive family programming where kids can express their authentic selves and become bright lights of change in their communities.”
The Town’s website notes that it strives to be a welcoming and diverse community with a sense of belonging. It added, “The annual Pride festival is an example of how we embrace this goal.”
The festival commission describes itself on its website as a “group of volunteers who donate their time year-round.”