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Proud Boys target Silver Spring drag queen story hour

Volunteers blocked far-right group members from entering bookstore

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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.

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Maryland

HRC endorses Angela Alsobrooks

Prince George’s County executive running against Larry Hogan for Cardin Senate seat

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Angela Alsobrooks supporters march in the Baltimore Pride Parade on June 15, 2024. The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed her in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.). (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

HRC President Kelley Robinson in a statement that Alsobrooks’s campaign released on Tuesday said Alsobrooks “has always been a champion for equality and freedom, from her support for the state law that legalized same-sex marriage in 2012, to becoming the first Maryland county executive to authorize flying the Progress Pride flag over county buildings, and much more.”

“With everything at stake and democracy itself hanging in the balance, Marylanders deserve that kind of champion,” said Robinson.

Alsobrooks said she is “very honored to earn the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign.”

“In the U.S. Senate, I will always stand up for the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans and make sure we have a future where our freedoms are always protected,” she said.

Alsobrooks in May defeated Congressman David Trone in the Democratic primary for Cardin’s seat. She will face off against former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan in November.

“Angela is a trailblazer who is poised to defeat Trump-endorsed Republican Larry Hogan and become the first Black woman from Maryland to serve in the U.S. Senate,” said Robinson. “The Human Rights Campaign is excited and proud to put our full support behind Angela Alsobrooks and help rally Maryland’s voters to elect her in November.”

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Maryland

Bethesda church hosts transgender, nonbinary photo exhibit

Photographer Gwen Andersen showcases community members of all ages, backgrounds

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One of the photos that is part of photographer Gwen Andersen's "Becoming Ourselves" exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Gwen Andersen)

Amid the spate of anti-transgender legislation, the bullying of trans students and lack of gender-affirming care for young people across the country, photographer Gwen Andersen’s photo exhibit seeks to portray the trans and nonbinary community in a positive light.

Andersen’s “Becoming Ourselves” exhibit that documents trans and nonbinary people will be on display at the Bethesda United Church of Christ (10010 Fernwood Road) this summer.

Andersen spearheaded the exhibit along with the Rev. Dr. Jill McCrory from Bethesda UCC. The church paid for the project with a donation it received from Stevie Neal, a trans woman who passed away and left part of her estate to McCrory.

McCrory herself has been a pillar in the LGBTQ community for decades, including while pastor at Twinbrook Baptist Church.

The congregation that McCrory closed dispersed more than $1 million to various ministries and LGBTQ organizations, founded the MoCo Pride Center, and married a same-sex couple on the rainbow stage of Capital Pride in 2010.  Bethesda UCC has also marked the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and hosted a renaming ceremony for a trans baptized member. 

“I happen to have access to a wonderful transgender woman’s (Stevie) donation that she left me to do something for the transgender community,” said McCrory over a Zoom interview. “Andersen came to Rev. McCrory in November of 2023 with the idea. “Gwen knew Stevie. I thought this would be perfect because this is something that would benefit the transgender community.” 

“WIthout Stevie, this surely would not have happened. And I say that with great confidence,” Andersen said in a Zoom interview. 

Stevie Neal with her dog. (Photo courtesy of Gwen Andersen)

“Becoming Ourselves” debuted at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville in March. 

The exhibit features photos of trans and nonbinary people from across the country that Andersen and a number of other photographers took.

The photos feature people from all ages — from preteens to elders from all walks of life that include teachers, community leaders, and athletes. Andersen’s exhibit also showcases people who are proudly showing their top surgery scars. It also shows trans and nonbinary people in a variety of ways, from enjoying music, playing sports, and working.

The exhibit most importantly shows them being happy. 

Anderson’s exhibit has two main goals: Give a space for trans and nonbinary people to see others in their community in a positive way, and to shift the narrative on how people see trans and nonbinary people. 

“It was an emotional issue that won hearts and minds.” said Andersen in reference to the LGBTQ movement to legalize same-sex marriage. “I believe we will reduce the hostility against transgender people by winning hearts and minds.” 

“One of the most effective messages is to protect trans kids,” she added. “Right now the hostility has not just gone against adults, it has gone against children, and children are being harassed, beaten up, and killing themselves. In much the same way as gays and lesbians were killing ourselves 30 years ago. I think what will be effective is tugging on hearts and minds and reclaiming the narrative from hate and fear, to love.”

Andersen wants to eventually get a more permanent location for the exhibit rather than bringing it to different venues. But until then, she plans to bring it to other churches that are interested in hosting it.

Anyone interested in supporting Andersen’s exhibit can log onto the “Becoming Ourselves” website, or directly help any of the photographers whose work is showcased. Andersen has directed folks to support photographer Liam Woods, whose online name is Analogue Papi.

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Maryland

Moore pardons more than 175,000-plus cannabis-related convictions

Governor signed executive order at State House on Monday

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

BY BRENDA WINTRODE and PAMELA WOOD | Gov. Wes Moore pardoned more than 175,000 cannabis-related convictions Monday, nullifying guilty verdicts decided when carrying small amounts of the drug or paraphernalia was illegal.

The Democratic governor signed an executive order during a State House ceremony, granting clemency to thousands of people convicted in Maryland. The convictions to be pardoned include more than 150,000 misdemeanors for simple possession and more than 18,000 for possession of drug paraphernalia with an intent to use.

The rest of this article can be read on the Baltimore Banner’s website.

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