Gay rights activists gather in support of ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ in Renton

RENTON, Wash. — Gay rights activists turned out in support of a Renton bar and its “Drag Queen Story Time” event for kids. The Brewmaster’s Taproom was the victim of what appeared to be a hate crime.

Someone fired into the business. So, the owner decided to move the event inside and it went viral.

A large group of activists showed up in support.

If those who oppose Drag Queen Story Time were here, they never made themselves visible. The rally was designed to drown them out and to make sure the event went on as planned.

It felt and looked like a prelude to a big Pride event. But these gay rights activists stood outside an unassuming bar in Renton’s Fairwood neighborhood to lend their support.

“Today, we’re going to dance,” Deaunte Damper, an activist, shouted to the crowd. “Today, we’re going to march. And today, we’re going to stand for LGBTQIA community members and our community members of Renton.”

All because of this, a drag queen’s weekly telling of stories to children inside The Brewmaster’s Taproom, something Sylvia O’StayForMore says she has done here for a year and a half.

“So, I’ve got all the books that I can choose from,” said O’StayForMore. “These are classics, award-winning, you know, different ones that you can find. There’s nothing. I’m not brainwashing children. Plus, the parents are here. I’m not kidnapping kids to come down here to listen to stories. It’s ridiculous.”

But last Wednesday, someone fired a pellet or BB gun into the business, sparking fear. Bar owner Marley Rall therefore decided to move the event inside, lest whoever shot at the business came back. And the story went viral.

“Yeah, unfortunately,” said Rall, smiling wryly. “Yeah, we’re just a small community gathering spot that has kind of blown up. We’re just trying to let somebody read a book to kids.”

The incident rallied Carmen Rivera, the first openly gay member of the Renton City Council, to the LGBTQ community’s cause. For too long, the community had been forced to ignore, she says, their constant fear.

“So, we want for moments like this so we can show up and be the allies,” Rivera said, “Be the supporters, be the warriors our ancestors who came before us were.”

Renton police had promised extra patrols. Indeed, there were several uniformed officers inside for a time.

People here say this is the second time a Drag Queen Story Time has been targeted in Renton. The last time was in 2019, at the Fairwood Library and things got heated. The event was pulled.

Rall says she plans to continue holding the event at the bar, despite those who don’t want it held there.

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