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Drag Story Hour raises $14,000 after bomb threat

Seward, Alaska – Photo: 123rf.com

A Drag Story Hour event in Alaska was postponed after a bomb threat, but members of the local community were able to spin straw into gold and, with the help of local businesses, raise over $13,000 to support the LGBTQ group that organized the event.

The Seward Pride Alliance of Seward, Alaska, had planned a Drag Story Hour event at the Seward Community Library and Museum as part of its Pride Month celebration for Saturday, June 8. While waiting for the event to begin, families with children worked on crafts at the library.

But then the library staff received a call from an unknown person threatening to bomb the story hour, which made it necessary to evacuate the library, reports the Homer News.

The Seward Police Department then searched the library and found that there was no incendiary device.

According to Alaska NPR affiliate KBBI, Seward Deputy Police Chief Karl Schaefermeyer said the bomb threat did not appear to have come from a local resident.

“We have been in contact with the FBI and will continue to follow up on some leads and try to find out who is responsible,” he said.

The Drag Queen Story Hour continued later in the day at the Alaska SeaLife Center.

Participants listened to stories including Maurice Sendak’s Where the wild things areread by local drag performers Totally Tiff and Mars.

“This year [were] “I was kind of joking before I actually read that there wasn't as much commotion and turnout this year,” Tyler Polo, board member of the Seward Pride Alliance and Totally Tiff's pseudonym, told KBBI. “It wasn't a novel event.”

The Pride Alliance has held various LGBTQ events in Seward over the past five years, with its first Drag Story Hour taking place last year. The story hour faced resistance in town, with some people attempting to steer attendees to an event at Resurrection Bay Baptist Church while anti-drag protesters prayed in the hallways.

“There was a small group of community members who had previously gone to a city council meeting to try to cancel the event,” noted Anthony Baclaan, board chair of the Seward Pride Alliance.

Across the country, many drag events have been met with hate and threats of violence from opponents of LGBTQ visibility, some of whom have accused drag performers of exposing themselves in front of children without evidence. Alaska is not immune to this trend.

In the city of Soldotna, a drag event was postponed after receiving negative online comments and threats of violence earlier this year. Last year, the Drag Queen Story Time event at a library in Ketchikan was canceled due to outcry from local residents, KBBI reports.

This year, according to the Seward Pride Alliance, on Friday, the evening before Drag Story Hour, a sign advertising the upcoming Pride celebrations was apparently removed in a targeted action.

Following the bomb threat, the local community joined the Pride Alliance and five local businesses organized a fundraiser for the LGBTQ group.

The companies pledged to donate up to $1,000 each. The goal is to raise $10,000.

They have set up a GoFundMe page where individuals and other businesses can donate small amounts of money.

So far, the crowdfunding campaign has raised $9,150, which, together with the $5,000 pledged by the business coalition, brings the total to over $14,000.

Anthony Baclaan, board chair of the Alliance, told KBBI they are overwhelmed by the support. Funds raised will be used for merchandise such as stickers and flags to increase LGBTQ visibility locally and across the state.

Anna Harden

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