Riverside bookstore hosts Drag Queen Story Time despite opposition – San Bernardino Sun

The storytelling drag queens are back. So is the opposition.

As soon as a Riverside bookstore announced the return of its Drag Queen Story Time after the coronavirus pandemic sidelined the program, it was slammed with sharply critical comments via phone, email and social media.

But the negative tone only strengthened Cellar Door Books’ resolve. On Saturday, April 2, for the first time in more than two years, colorful, theatrical drag queens read children’s books to kids and their parents.

Drag queens are typically men who dress in women’s clothes and perform before an audience.

Bookstore owner Linda Sherman-Nurick said the event was held several times before the pandemic and was staged every three months.

Sherman-Nurick said the story times are well attended and have drawn as many as 150 people to the shop in the Canyon Crest Towne Center. Because of the continuing, though reduced, threat from the virus, she limited attendance this time to about 40 and required everyone to wear a face covering.

The readings embrace diversity and inclusion, and “they are beautiful,” Sherman-Nurick said.

“The drag queens are fantastic performers,” she said. “So when they read to the kids, it’s fun. The kids love it.” Attending children typically range in age from babies to about 13, she said.

Cellar Door Books announced on social media March 12 that it was bringing back Drag Queen Story Time, saying, “We’ve missed our queens so much!” Five days later, the store reported on Twitter that it was receiving “bigoted responses” from those opposed, but “this only underscores for us just how important it is that we continue doing what we’re doing.”

During the Tuesday, March 29, Riverside County Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Riverside resident Sean Thompson mentioned the event and suggested to the board that drag queens be subjected to background checks, according to a meeting videotape.

The store vowed to press forward despite the criticism.

“Why? We want everyone to know they are loved,” Cellar Door Books tweeted. “No qualifiers are necessary. There is space here for you. That’s all. And the people who are calling us, sending us hateful emails, need to understand that they aren’t changing anything. We aren’t stopping.”

The book shop received backing from members of Free Mom Hugs, a nonprofit group that supports the LGBTQ community, who showed up at the event.

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