Fishkill Protester work an "Anonymous" mask similar to the one above
Lower Hudson Valley - Fifty-three-year-old Robert Porco of Fishkill was arrested by New York City police on March 19, 2023, while protesting at an event sponsored by New York State Attorney Letitia James and the LGBTQ+ Communin Manhattan. The first of its kind “Drag Story Hour Read-A-Thon” for families drew protesters consisting primarily of the Proud Boys network who were met by counter-protesters who were denouncing the bigotry and “gay-bashing” carried out by the protesters.
Porco traveled from Fishkill to Greenwich Village in the city to join fellow protesters in denouncing the event. Wearing an “Anonymous” mask, he allegedly approached a counter-protester and struck him in the face, causing injury, according to police officials. He was charged with assault for the attack.
The Drag Story Hour enlists individuals dressed in drag who read books to children and their families in a festive environment. The program is designed to encourage reading among young children. The term “drag” originated as British theater slang in the 19th century and was used to describe women’s clothing worn by men. Today, many prominent drag artists are still people who identify as men and present themselves in exaggeratedly feminine ways as part of their performance and are known as drag queens, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
“The recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ protests, rhetoric, and policies has left New Yorkers — myself included — devastated and disappointed. But I know better than anyone that when the choice is between love and hate, between joy and venom, New Yorkers will always choose love, and New Yorkers will always choose joy,” said Attorney General James.
“Drag Story Hour is one of our most popular programs and a fun and positive experience for families. Children love hearing stories and singing songs with the performers who dress in bright colors and sparkles,” said The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library. “Our librarians work closely with DSH to select age-appropriate books in English and other languages. We are proud to offer story times for babies and older children that reflect the diversity of the communities we serve and introduce a new generation to the joy of reading.”
Denouncing the violent protest outside of the center, Sean Ebony Coleman, Founder and Executive Director of Destination Tomorrow said “We have to stand up to those who have politicized something joyful and educational. The weaponization of drag story hour is a tool to vilify the community and further promote violence against and discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals. We will continue to celebrate all identities and refuse to let our joy be taken away.