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Proud Boys target Silver Spring drag queen story hour

Volunteers blocked far-right group members from entering bookstore



The Loyalty Bookstore in Silver Spring, Md., on Feb. 18, 2023, hosted a drag queen story hour. (Photo courtesy of Loyalty Bookstore/Twitter)

Montgomery County police say they dispersed members of the far-right group Proud Boys and others confronting them on Saturday outside the Loyalty Bookstore in Silver Spring after members of the group staged a protest against a Drag Story Hour held at the bookstore.

D.C. drag performer Charlemagne Chateau was hosting the drag queen story hour, an event held in recent years in libraries and bookstores across the country in which a drag queen reads from children’s books to groups of children accompanied by their parents.

Photos and videos posted on social media show Proud Boys members wearing masks and holding signs outside the bookstore. NBC Washington reported that one of the signs said, “Proud Boys love children. Proud Boys hate pedophiles. Leave kids alone.”

According to NBC Washington, a separate group that provides support for drag queen story hour events called the Parasol Patrol was present during the protest and some of its members were kicked and had their feet stomped by the Proud Boys members. One of the Parasol Patrol members was punched in the face by a Proud Boys member, the TV news station reported.

In a Twitter posting, Loyalty Bookstore praised the Parasol Patrol members for preventing the Proud Boys from disrupting the drag book reading event.

“Yesterday afternoon Loyalty came under attack from hate groups who tried to force their way into our store during Drag Queen Story Hour with physical violence,” the bookstore’s posting says. “The incredible @parasolpatrol and the [Montgomery County] chapter of @Drag Story Hour did wonders to not only push back and hold the safe space, but to keep cheering and singing joyfully in the face of hate speech and disgusting threats,” the bookstore’s posting continues.

“Because of their efforts the children inside the store got to enjoy doing Hokey Pokey, hearing beautiful books read aloud,” the posting says.

In response to a request for comment by the Washington Blade, a spokesperson for Montgomery County police said police were not notified in advance that the drag queen story hour was taking place.

The spokesperson, Shiera Goff, said officers were dispatched to the bookstore about 1:05 p.m. on Saturday and observed a “confrontation between the two groups,” in referring to the Proud Boys and the Parasol Patrol.

“Police were called and dispersed the crowd,” she told the Blade in an email message. “No one was arrested and no reports of injuries.”

In a separate Twitter posting, Montgomery County Councilmember Kristin Mink (D-District 5) praised efforts to defend the event.

“Proud Boys showed up in Silver Spring and got violent today, trying to scare away families and children attending Drag Story Hour at Loyalty Books,” Mink said in her post. “But the community held a wall of safety and support. The kids had a great time and were none the wiser,” she wrote. “We will never back down.”

In a brief Facebook posting, drag performer Chateau said the Proud Boys confrontation was “not the kind of attention I wanted,” adding, “Thank you to the Parasol Patrol for keeping me and the families who were at the event safe.”

On its website, Drag Story Hour says following its founding in 2015 the organization has evolved into a national nonprofit global network of local organizations carrying out the mission of the original San Francisco-based group that started the reading by drag queens of books to kids in libraries, bookstores and schools.

“In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where everyone can be their authentic selves,” the organization says on its website.



Md. lawmakers pass several LGBTQ rights bills during 2024 session

Senate committee failed to vote on HIV decriminalization bill



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland lawmakers passed a number of LGBTQ rights bills during this year’s legislative session that ended on Monday.

House Bill 1397, which would strengthened the state’s nondiscrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, passed on Monday. 

The Freedom to Read Act, which, among other things, would “protect local library personnel from dismissal or disciplinary action for doing their jobs, in accordance with prescribed standards,” passed in the Maryland Senate on April 5. 

The state Senate on April 4 passed House Bill 602, which would bolster Maryland’s employment discrimination law. The Maryland House of Delegates on the same day approved a measure that would make Maryland a sanctuary state for transgender people and their health care providers.

FreeState Justice Policy Advocate and Legal Impact Coordinator Camila Reynolds-Dominguez in a statement notes lawmakers also “affirmed Maryland’s commitment to the federal Equal Rights Amendment” and “created much needed oversight for Maryland’s prison system.” 

She noted lawmakers “defeated a myriad of anti-trans bills and harmful amendments” during this year’s legislative session. Reynolds-Dominguez also criticized the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee over its failure to vote on a bill that would repeal the criminalization of people with HIV.

“This legislative session was monumental for LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” she said. “While we are extremely disappointed that the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee did not bring an HIV criminalization repeal law to a vote for the second year in a row, there is much else to celebrate.”

“It is too apparent from the harmful comments and misinformation we heard during legislative debates that there is still so much work that must be done to change certain legislators’ anti-LGBTQIA+ biases,” added Reynolds-Dominguez. “Nonetheless, we’re also celebrating the overwhelming majority of our elected officials who are wonderful and supportive allies in the fight to make Maryland an inclusive state where everyone has dignity and equal rights no matter who they are or who they love. We would like to thank all the advocates, allies and activists who helped us achieve so many victories this session — none of this would be possible without dozens of people’s hard work, tireless effort and unwavering dedication.”

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Md. poised to become trans sanctuary state

Trans Shield Act received final approval this week



The Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A bill that would make Maryland a sanctuary state for transgender people and their health care providers received final approval this week.

The Maryland House of Delegates on April 4 passed a version of Senate Bill 19, the Trans Shield Act, that state Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery County) introduced. The Maryland Senate earlier this year passed SB 19 that state Sen. Clarence Lam (D-Anne Arundel and Howard Counties), Shelly Hettleman (D-Baltimore County) and Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery County) introduced.

The Washington Blade previously reported Maryland would become the 12th state to implement such a law if Democratic Gov. Wes Moore signs it. D.C. has enacted a similar statute.

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Maryland’s Joe Vogel would make history if elected to Congress

27-year-old gay lawmaker running for David Trone seat



Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County) (Photo courtesy of Joe Vogel)

Maryland state Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery County) on Monday said it is time for a new generation of leaders in Congress.

The Montgomery County Democrat last May declared his candidacy for Maryland’s 6th Congressional District after Congressman David Trone announced his run for retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)’s seat. Vogel, 27, would be the first Latino, the first gay man and the first Gen Zer elected to Congress from Maryland if he were to win in November.

“We need a new generation of leadership with new perspectives, new ideas and the courage to actually deliver for our communities if we want things to get better in this country,” Vogel told the Washington Blade during an interview at the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan.

Protecting democracy among priorities

Vogel was born in Uruguay and immigrated to Rockville with his family when he was three years old.

He volunteered for former President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Vogel, who is Jewish, in 2014 worked for Maryland state Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery County)’s campaign.

He was part of Hillary Clinton’s National Advance Team during her 2016 presidential campaign, and worked on former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 2017 gubernatorial bid. Vogel later joined the March for Our Lives movement for gun control that began after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018.

Vogel in 2020 worked for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)’s presidential campaign. The Montgomery County Democrat in 2022 became the first Gen Zer to win a seat in the Maryland General Assembly. 

Vogel pointed out to the Blade that he has introduced 18 bills in this year’s legislative session. 

One of them, a bill that would prohibit the state from giving foster children in their custody trash bags for them to transport their belongings, passed unanimously in the House on March 14. Other measures that Vogel has sponsored would, among other things, provide security grants to abortion clinics and increase investments in local newspapers.

“I have a record of being able to deliver results,” he said. “That’s what I’m running on.”

Vogel pointed out to the Blade that his platform includes:

  • • Protecting democracy
  • • Preventing “attacks on fundamental rights”
  • • Fighting climate change
  • • Stopping gun violence

Vogel also noted his support for the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights laws.

“At a moment of time when you have attacks against the LGBTQ+ community, against our rights, against our identities, I believe that there’s nothing more powerful than electing Maryland’s first openly LGBTQ+ member of Congress,” he said.

Vogel added his election would send “a message to all the young LGBTQ+ people across the state that they belong, and that they have someone in the United States Congress who understands them and is going to fight for them every single day,” added Vogel.

Vogel’s great-grandparents fled Europe ahead of the Holocaust. Uruguay’s military dictatorship was in place from 1973-1985. 

His multiple identities remain a cornerstone of his legislative priorities and of his campaign.

“When we talk about the attacks on LGBTQ+ people, I get that. I feel that,” said Vogel. “I understand that when we talk about the attacks on immigrant communities … not only do I understand that, personally, but I’m around so many immigrants that feel that pain of what we’ve seen over the last many years of the incessant attacks on immigrants and Latino people. When we see the rise in anti-Semitism, I feel that personally.”

HRC, Victory Fund have endorsed Vogel

The Democratic primary will take place on May 14.

April McClain Delaney, a former U.S. Department of Commerce official whose husband is former Congressman John Delaney, and state Del. Lesley Lopez (D-Montgomery County) are among Vogel’s primary opponents. Former state Del. Dan Cox, an anti-LGBTQ Republican who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2022, is also running for Trone’s seat.

Campaign finance reports indicate Vogel raised $379,755.91 between May 4, 2023, and Dec. 31, 2023. McClain Delaney reported she received $536,557 in campaign contributions from Oct. 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2023.

The Human Rights Campaign, the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, Equality PAC and the Sierra Club are among the organizations that have endorsed Vogel’s campaign. U.S. Reps. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), Becca Balint (D-Vt.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and Frederick County Council President Brad Young are among those who have also backed him. The Maryland State Education Association and the National Education Association this week endorsed Vogel.

Vogel dismissed suggestions that he does not have enough legislative experience to run for Congress and that he is too young.

“When you’re elected to Congress, you’re elected for a two-year term,” he said. “Look at what I’ve been able to accomplish in a two-year term. I’ve proven that I can hit the ground running, get results, deliver results.”

Vogel added the race to succeed Trone in Congress is “me versus the status quo.”

“We need a new generation of leadership with new perspectives, new ideas and the courage to actually deliver for our communities if we actually want things to get better in this country,” said Vogel.

Democratic opponent gave money to Jim DeMint

Former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan last month announced he is running for U.S. Senate. Prince George’s County Executive Director Angela Alsobrooks is also hoping to succeed Cardin.

Vogel sharply criticized Cox. 

“He is as bigoted as it gets,” Vogel told the Blade. “He is a far-right extremist who bussed people to D.C. on Jan. 6, who is as homophobic as it gets, and who is as transphobic as it gets.”

Vogel said Maryland voters in November “need to reject Dan Cox” and “we have to reject Larry Hogan.” (Vogel has endorsed Trone’s Senate campaign.)

“We have to elect pro-equality members of Congress this November, to finally secure the protections that we need for our community in Congress,” said Vogel.

Vogel also vowed to “do everything in my power to ensure that” former President Donald Trump does not win re-election in November.

“Three generations in my family: My great-grandparents, my grandparents, my parents experienced the loss of democracy,” Vogel told the Blade. “My great-grandparents escaped fascism. My grandparents and parents lived under a repressive military dictatorship in Uruguay, and I see the concern that my parents feel seeing the rise of Trump.”

“I refuse to be the fourth generation in my family who experienced the loss of democracy,” he added. “This November, the election fundamentally is going to decide the future of our democracy.”

Vogel on Sunday during a forum the Frederick County Democratic Party sponsored criticized McClain Delaney over her 2005 campaign donation to then-U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) after he said gay people should not be teachers.

“I can’t imagine making any sort of political contribution to any anti-LGBTQ+, anti-choice, pro-NRA member of the United States Senate, and let alone the maximum allowed contribution,” said Vogel. “There is a stark contrast there.”

‘My heart breaks for what we saw on’ Oct. 7

Vogel spoke with the Blade less than six months after Hamas launched a surprise attack against southern Israel.

“It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” he said. “What concerns me is that Hamas has made clear that they intend to carry out an attack like that again and again and again and again.”

“My heart breaks for what we saw on that day,” added Vogel.

Vogel is among those who attended a pro-Israel rally that took place on the National Mall last November. He has also met with relatives of hostages who remain in the Gaza Strip.

“Hearing the stories of parents whose kids are still in Gaza, the pain that I feel is tremendous,” said Vogel. “We have to bring those hostages home.”

Vogel told the Blade that Hamas can no longer control Gaza. He also said peace cannot be achieved with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in office.

“If we want to reach peace, a number of things have to happen: Hamas needs to go. We need a change in leadership in Israel and we need diplomatic negotiations to get a bilateral ceasefire, which is not what I think people are calling for when they call for an immediate ceasefire.”

Vogel last October posted to his X account pictures of anti-Semitic graffiti in his apartment building.

He told the Blade the graffiti was removed, but “it took a very long time.” Vogel has introduced a bill that would require the removal of graffiti in a specific period of time if it violates Maryland’s hate crimes law.

Book bans ‘have absolutely no place’

Vogel during the interview also criticized Moms for Liberty and their efforts to ban books in Maryland. He noted Jaime Brennan, the chair of the group’s Frederick County chapter, is running for the county’s Board of Education.

“Book bans in a free democratic society have absolutely no place,” said Vogel.

The Maryland House on March 15 by a 98-37 vote margin approved the Freedom to Read Act. The measure would create a “state policy that local school systems operate their school library media programs consistent with certain standards,” require “each local school system to develop a policy and procedures to review objections to materials in a school library media program” and ban “a county board of education from dismissing, demoting, suspending, disciplining, reassigning, transferring or otherwise retaliating against certain school library media program personnel for performing their job duties consistent with certain standards.”

The bill is now before the Senate Education, Energy and the Environment Committee.

Amber Laenen contributed to this story.

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