A public library in Ohio canceled a “Drag 101” class after saying they received “veiled threats” and “hostile” messages from people who were fed up with the thought of the event, according to ThisWeekNews.
A drag queen by the name of Selena T. West, a former Miss Gay Ohio America and Miss Gay Heart of America, planned to teach the class to teens at the Delaware County District Library’s Orange branch.
West said the event was intended to talk about the history of drag and claimed it wasn’t what people were making it out to be.
“It’s not going to be about sex, it’s not going to be about gender, it’s not going to be about whether you’re trans,” West said. “It’s going to be about the basics of how to get in drag.”
“It’s going to be open to everybody, and I want people to come be able to express themselves and learn about drag,” he continued. “Drag is not scary; drag is not sexual. [Teens can] learn about what seem like trivial things like hair, nails, makeup, clothing. Those are the building blocks of a Drag 101 class I would teach.”
But people in the community — and outside of it — saw things differently. ThisWeekNews reports:
Library spokeswoman Nicole Fowles said the library had received “hundreds” of phone calls and emails about the event since its announcement.
She said a large portion of those calls had come from out of state, and said at one point the calls and emails were “interfering with our librarians’ ability to do their daily jobs.”
Some of those messages, she said, involved threats, which 'concerned' library officials.
After meeting with Delaware Country Sheriff Russell Martin library leaders decided to cancel the class.
“Our number one priority as a library is to ensure that everyone who walks in our doors feels safe,” a statement from the library read. “Our mission statement ensures that we will provide “lifelong learning in a friendly environment.” Threats of protests, hate and violence stand in direct conflict with that mission and we cannot sacrifice the safety of the public we serve.”
“It really does break our hearts,” Fowles said.
With all the “heartbreak” going on, West decided to hold the class at a private venue in June — at Secret Identity Comics in Delaware, Ohio.
“A private donor has decided to pay me for the Drag 101 class that didn’t happen at the library,” West posted on Facebook. “I will donate that 200 dollars to Kaleidoscope Youth Center, Ohio's only LGBTQ center for youth and their allies.”