Right-wing groups disrupt children’s event and target a small town’s Pride

This past weekend, extremists in Idaho and California sought to disrupt LGBTQ2+ events

On Saturday, amid celebrations during the second weekend of Pride Month, members of right-wing groups targeted a Pride event in Idaho and a drag queen story hour in California. 

In Idaho, police arrested dozens of members of the far-right group Patriot Front, intercepting their plans to riot at Pride at the Park, a family-friendly event featuring live music and arts and crafts, held in the small city of Coeur d’Alene, east of Spokane. Coming from several states, members of the group had a seven-page plan that involved using smoke to provoke a “confrontational dynamic” at the event. They wore arm patches and hats with Patriot Front logos, with some also bearing shields and shin guards. 

“If you go online, look up ‘Patriot Front,’ and that’s exactly how these individuals are dressed,” Lee White, the local chief of police, told The New York Times. “I have no doubt in my mind they were coming downtown to riot.”

Before they could enact their plans, however, the group was caught when someone called the police about a crowd of people jumping into a U-Haul.

“They were all dressed like a small army,” Bob Norris, a local sheriff, said. “We had units in their area, and we were able to intercept them pretty quickly.”

Things didn’t go so well at the drag queen story hour in California

At a Bay area library, a small group of children and adults had been singing a “welcome song” with Panda Dulce, the drag queen leading the story hour, when five members of the Proud Boys came in and started launching transphobic slurs at Dulce. Some of the men wore black and yellow, colours representing the far-right group, and one wore a shirt saying “kill your local pedophile” over a graphic of a gun. As the men shouted, the library’s security guard took Dulce out of the room, and the police were called. 

“It is unfathomable that adults would terrorize children and our drag performers at story hours, and we are livid that conservative politicians and right-wing media are increasingly inciting violence, rather than working to end it.”

Jonathan Hamilt, the executive director of Drag Queen Story Hour, a program connecting drag queens to libraries and schools for story hours, denounced the disruption of the storytime in a press release.

“It is unfathomable that adults would terrorize children and our drag performers at story hours, and we are livid that conservative politicians and right-wing media are increasingly inciting violence, rather than working to end it,” Hamilt said. “We remain committed to creating safe opportunities for children to learn about the diversity of the world around them and express their most fabulous selves.”


Jessica Reaves, the director of Content and Editorial Strategy at the Anti-Defamation League, explained that while the Patriot Front’s actions were somewhat out of character for the group, the Proud Boys were working from their usual playbook of enacting violence against its perceived enemies. 

“Patriot Front is best known for its dogged propaganda efforts, but while the plot to violently disrupt a Pride event is a bit out of character for the group, the plan’s inherent, profound bigotry and hatred is very much in line with their white supremacist way of thinking,” Reaves said. 

“Proud Boys, on the other hand, have made their dubious mark seeking out and perpetrating violence against their perceived ‘enemies.’ This attack on a children’s event is pretty typical and reflects the group’s bigoted and fearful view of the world.” In Canada last year, the federal government added the Proud Boys to its list of “terrorist entities.”

Both attacks come at a moment when the right has weaponized social media to promote homophobia and transphobia. According to the ADL, one of Patriot Front’s key tactics is the use of “flash demonstrations” to generate photos and videos for online content. Libs of TikTok, a Twitter account that creates and platforms homophobic and transphobic content, highlighted the story hour the Proud Boys disrupted. 

Still, despite the increase in bigotry toward LGBTQ2s+ people, Dulce, a founding member of Drag Queen Story Hour events at libraries in multiple states, has said that she won’t stop doing her story hours. 

“I can’t describe the spark in a queer kid’s (and yes, we can tell) eyes when they see you,” she told Buzzfeed News. “It’s like their gender is being acknowledged for the first time. These kids deserve programming and role models that is accurately reflective of our diverse world. Not a regurgitated monolith authored by xenophobes because they’re too cowardly to accept reality.”

Jackie Richardson is a freelance writer based in Western New York. She has worked at The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, and The Sophian.

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