Orlando-area Drag Queen Story Hour canceled due to neo-Nazi threats

click to enlarge Pulse mural on the wall of the Center - Photo by Matt Keller Lehamn
Photo by Matt Keller Lehamn
Pulse mural on the wall of the Center

Orlando's LGBT+ Center canceled an upcoming Halloween edition of their popular Drag Queen Story Hour for children over safety concerns due to a planned disruption from a number of white-nationalist and other extremist groups.

The Halloween program would have been hosted by local drag performer Bridgette Galore on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Center. The daytime event was already sold out in advance, according to Center staff.

The decision was made to cancel the Drag Queen Story Hour on Monday after Center Director George Wallace was alerted by local officials, Equality Florida and the Anti-Defamation League of coordinated disruption and intimidation being planned by a number of white-nationalist and extremist groups, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Posts on social media claimed a crazy-quilt of members from the Patriot Front, Proud Boys, White Lives Matter, National Socialist Movement, Goyim Defense League and National Socialist Front were all set to converge on the Center.

Center staff elected to cancel the event with concerns for the safety of attending children and families foremost in mind.

"Due to several threats from hate groups aimed at The Center and to those participating in Drag Queen Story Hour, we have decided to cancel the event for this Saturday’s Halloween Edition scheduled for 2PM," read a statement from the Center on Monday.  "We take these threats very seriously and would not want to endanger or expose children and their parents and guardians to bigotry and hate."

The Orlando Police Department will be maintaining a presence around the Center on Mills Avenue on Saturday.

The program has not been rescheduled as of this writing, so in a really twisted sense, the fascists accomplished some of their goal of disruption.

“I’m sad and angry that threats like these continue to happen against the LGBTQ community,” said Orlando Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith to Florida Politics. “Neo-Nazis organizing in Florida against Drag Queen Story Time? This is really dangerous and scary. And it is why we have always spoken out against homophobia and transphobia, and it is continuing to be promoted by right-wing politicians.”

This would not be the first overt neo-Nazi assembly  in Orlando this year. There was a rally at a busy intersection in Orlando back in February with dozens in attendance and some openly waving Nazi flags.

“Even though the Center has decided out of an abundance of caution to cancel this event, it doesn’t mean that Nazis are not still coming, and if they’re still coming, they’re potentially going to target another organization, which could be the Holocaust Center,” Orlando Rep. Anna Eskamani told the Sentinel.

In other words, don't bother asking if it can happen here. Neo-nazis are already among us.
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