HELENA — The Montana Human Rights Network says it is monitoring alleged threats made against a Montana Pride Event set for Saturday, July 24 in downtown Helena.
Drag Story Hour, where drag performers from the Great Falls Troop Mister Sisters read children's books about acceptance, has received social media backlash on Facebook and on Gab. The event has garnered online outrage from some critics, with one reportedly threatening to "shut this demonic preying on children down," and saying "people need to show up to shut this pedophile garbage down. I'll be there."
Montana Human Rights Network says some of the comments have come from people with ties to far-right, anti-government groups, including the Oath Keepers. Other members of the group have been accused of racist and bigoted comments and actions in the past.
MHRN advised Montana Pride organizers to contact law enforcement for extra patrols in the area, especially because of other drag storytime events facing backlash across the country.
Helena Police Department officers said that Montana Pride hires them every year for the Pride Parade and this year they will continue to be in the downtown area long after the parade is over.
Despite the outrage, drag performer Julie Yard says the pride event will go on as planned.
"The whole message behind the Drag Queen Story Hour is love and acceptance and just realizing that other people are different from you and that's OK, and that should be celebrated. We have every law enforcement agency available, who is monitoring the situation. Your kids are going to be absolutely safe. They are going to have an amazing time.”
MHRN Director of Combating White Nationalism and Defending Democracy Travis McAdam says it was crucial that everyone take this threat seriously.
“You know, we're just really glad that both local law enforcement and the pride organizers are aware of some of the various threats out there, they're taking them seriously and you know they're definitely committed to making sure that the celebration is both safe and fun,” said McAdam.
Montana Pride Director Kev Hamm says no matter what, the pride celebration will go on.
“We don't have to change our lives just because somebody hates us. There's a lot of people that hate us. Thankfully there's a lot more people who love us and that's why we get to have these celebrations, so come on down. We've made everything as safe as we can. It's gonna be an amazing time and I can guarantee one thing, that no matter what happens, we're still gonna be here.”
The alleged threats to the Helena event come a month after a protest in Billings at Zoo Montana over their drag story hour.