‘We are here, we will continue to be here:’ Drag Queen Story Hour in Helena moving forward

By: - July 21, 2022 6:33 pm

A photo of a rainbow flag at a LGBTQ rally (Photo by Getty Images).

Montana Pride is gearing up for a weekend filled with LGBTQ+ events including a Drag Queen Story Hour at the Montana Book Co. in Helena despite an online threat that’s under investigation.

The threat was made on the social media platform Gab by one individual who identified themselves as an Oath Keeper, a far-right anti-government extremist group.

The Helena Police Department is investigating the threat, and Lt. Randy Ranalli said there will be an increased police presence downtown and close to the Montana Book Co. during the event itself, as well as security throughout the parade.

​Drag Queen Story Hour celebrates reading “through the glamorous art of drag” in the U.S. and beyond, as described on the chapter network’s website. The lineup also includes events around “queer ecology”on environmental issues, Pride hikes and a queer rodeo dance party to celebrate Pride in Montana.

“Pride is a celebration of people that may be different from you,” Montana Pride President Kevin Hamm said Thursday. “And instead of fearing us and hiding in your hole and barking at the parade, come down and join us and have some fun and find out that all of these people that are amazing, are truly amazing.”

The Montana Human Rights Network said they reached out to law enforcement, Montana Pride leadership and others who could be directly impacted to ensure everyone’s safety.

“It’s never going to be 100 percent safe, but it doesn’t matter because we are here, we will continue to be here, and the fight isn’t over,” said Hamm.

This news comes a month after a Drag Queen Story Hour event at ZooMT in Billings was targeted with hateful rhetoric in the lead up to the event.

The story hour attracted hundreds of attendees, with some protesters but no violence. Zoo Director Director Jeff Ewelt told the Daily Montanan it was a “wonderful family friendly day.”

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Nicole Girten
Nicole Girten

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune as a government watchdog reporter. She holds a degree from Florida State University and a Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.