Courtesy Baltimore Basilica

In a since-deleted post, the Basilica of the Assumption, America’s first Catholic cathedral, called a Drag Queen Storytime event scheduled for tonight at the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s central branch “evil,” saying people “do not need to expose kids to such things.”

The event features two drag performers, Bambi Galore and Evon Dior Michelle, reading stories to children at the branch, which is located directly across Cathedral Street from the basilica.

The post, purportedly written by Father James Boric, rector of the church, urged people to research “the ‘acclaimed’ storytellers” and instead come to a service Thursday night to “pray for the conversion of all involved.”

It has since been deleted. Father Boric did not immediately return a call seeking comment and confirmation he wrote the post.

A screengrab of the Basilica of the Assumption’s since-deleted post.
A screengrab of the Basilica of the Assumption’s since-deleted post.

Comments on the post mostly skewed negative, with many saying Jesus Christ would not support casting judgment on people, including those who choose to dress in drag.

Reached by phone, Bambi Galore said they were disappointed a religious organization would criticize a group of “people wanting to read stories to children in an inclusive environment.”

“The whole purpose is we read stories that say everyone deserves to be loved, and everyone is special in their own unique way,” said Galore, who is the coordinator of the local chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour. They added that all the books are age-appropriate.

Without naming the Basilica, the Pratt responded on social media by saying, “In 1882, Enoch Pratt opened this library saying my library ‘shall be for all.’ That is the mission we live by today and everyday. Everyone is welcome here.”

Meghan McCorkell, director of marketing and communications for Pratt, said the library system was surprised by the post from the Basilica of the Assumption but undeterred to hold the reading, which is hosted in a partnership with the Baltimore City LGBTQ Affairs within the mayor’s office.

“We provide programs for all, and that includes programs for the LGBTQ community and allies of the LGBTQ community,” she said. “And we will continue to provide programs for anyone and everyone who comes through our doors.”

In a statement, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said Baltimore’s diversity is one of the city’s greatest assets.

“It is our responsibility to show that we embrace children, families and residents of all identities,” he said. “What would be evil is depriving our city of the opportunity to confront and celebrate our differences. We are lucky to have a talented community of drag performers who are giving back to our young people, boosting their confidence and sharing the love of reading. I’m proud that the Drag Queen Story Hour has made it to Baltimore.”

McCorkell said the library has a good relationship with its neighbors at the Basilica of the Assumption and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which oversees all Catholic churches in the city and Allegany, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard and Washington counties.

Last September, the basilica agreed not to book a wedding on the day the library system held a street festival to celebrate the central branch’s reopening after extensive renovations, and the Pratt made sure the street was clear in time for evening mass, she said.

And members of the Pratt’s leadership team have met with Boric and Archbishop William E. Lori in the past. Catholic Charities, the church’s network of community nonprofits, held a meeting at the central branch a few weeks ago, McCorkell noted.

“When I say it’s open for all, it really is open for all,” she said.

In response to questions from Baltimore Fishbowl, a spokesperson for the archdiocese only noted the post has been taken down.

Story events with drag queens have become popular all across the country. The nonprofit parent organization for Drag Queen Story Hour lists on its website more than 40 independently operated chapters, covering most major cities in the U.S.

The event, according to Drag Queen Story Hour’s page, “captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.”

It goes on to say: “In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.”

Galore said it is important for young people who are LGBTQ to find a place they are included. “At the same time, we want all children to feel included,” they said.

But as The New York Times reported in a June 2019 story, the events have been met with backlash in various places, from urban cities to rural areas. Ohio’s Speaker of the House Larry Householder condemned the readings, arguing “they should not be a resource for teenage boys to learn how to dress in drag.”

Two libraries in the state cancelled readings in response.

Jonathan Hamilt, who co-founded Drag Queen Story Hour, told the Times the backlash has grown as the events have become more popular.

“But the love and support for Drag Queen Story Hour has trumped the hate, even though both have grown,” he said.

Tonight’s reading, which includes the books “I Am Just Right,” “Jack (Not Jackie)” and “Harriet Gets Carried Away,” is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. in the central branch’s Creative Arts Center.

This story has been updated.

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Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...

15 replies on “Basilica casts Drag Queen Storytime at Pratt as ‘evil,’ library responds ‘Everyone is welcome here’”

  1. Hurray for the Enoch Pratt. Libraries are a bastion of freedom of speech in America and represent the very best of our ideals. The Basilica has a right to comment but kudos to the library administration for Staying true to its values!

    1. Jeff if you can’t comprehend what is objectionable about Men in Drag being around and touching young children you are as delusional as the Men who are wearing the Make Wigs and Costumes. The only time a man should wear us dress is on Halloween!

  2. Sexual law suits have cost the Catholic Church upwards to $4 BILLION dollars! And they complain about a Drag Queen Story Hour? Clean your own house/church. I’ve never known a Drag Queen child molester.

  3. Enoch Pratt is fabulous! Thank you for serving everyone in our community. And, just so folks know, the library’s up the street neighbor, Emmanuel Episcopal Church applauds Drag Queen Story Hour. Love is love is love.

  4. Really? We’re talking here about preschoolers and kindergarteners. Apart from the effect on their innocent souls, some of these kids may go on to develop gender dysphoria and be “treated” with puberty-blocking drugs. Some may even, tragically, have healthy body parts surgically removed and regret it when it’s too late.

    The whole thing is insane, immoral and should elicit more then societal co-dependence. We’re supposed to be kind to delusional people and get them help, not turn them into role models for young children.

    ”Yes, there are still those of us with the capacity to be disturbed with the overt promotion of “gender fluidity” to impressionable little children and think that little boys and little girls can do without “unabashedly queer role models” who might even invite kids to roll around on the ground with them. Kids don’t need to be drafted into recreating the world with the LGBT activists, and it is appalling that so few people seem to see any point in protecting children from sexualized material .

    Drag Queen Story Hour is about promoting specific sexual lifestyles and a specific gender ideology to children. That’s not my analysis—that’s what they say on their website. If that’s not a cultural crisis, and if we’ve become so inured to the nonstop sexualization of everything that we simply shrug and move on, we’ve fallen a lot further and a lot faster than I thought.

  5. SERIOUSLY?!?! I’m pretty sure that Catholic clergy have been responsible for much more sexual evil in the world than a few drag queens. And the evils committed by those clergy were actively hidden by the church for decades. The evil doers were protected … and often promoted. Maybe Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are models of purity and love but the same can’t be said of the Catholic church. A prostitute is brought in to Jesus and he does not condemn her. But some hypocrite who proclaims to be Jesus’ emissary on earth condemns a couple of guys who dress in drag to read to children.

    1. Didn’t Archbishop Lori of the very same institution that’s twitter account blasted Drag Queen Story Time omit to report the money he took from the disgraced West Virginia Bishop facing charges of child sexual abuse and financial impropriety when Lori was supposed to be investigating him? The nerve of some people!

  6. As a life long Catholic, I am ashamed by the post of Father Boric. And, I call upon Archbishop Lori to affirm the Archdiocese’s support of the LGBTQ+ community. We are called to act like Jesus, to love EVERYONE.

    1. Playing dress up is fun… even the (mostly gay) Catholic clerics like to dress up in gowns, jewels, and ruby slippers. Carabec, you win the irony contest here!

  7. Just to let you know, a local public library in Houston invited a drag queen who is a convicted child-sex offender to read books to children back in September.
    Houston Public Library officials didn’t apologize for hosting Drag Queen Storytime. But they did “deeply regret” failing to conduct a background check.
    The activist group Houston MassResistance did it for them and discovered that Alberto Garza, a 32-year-old drag queen who goes by the name Tatiana Mala Nina, was convicted of assaulting an 8-year-old child!
    We shouldn’t have to wait for a child to get hurt before we realize what a terrible idea these story times are. A local library is the last place parents should have to worry about an unhappy ending for kids.

    1. It would be interesting to compare drag queens and Catholic clergy in terms of rates of child molestation. Drag queens, I’m quite sure, would end up looking pretty good in comparison.

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