STL play center forced to relocate & reschedule kids Drag Storytime event as local LGBTQ businesses receive death threats

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 10:26 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A South City play place for children with a cafe for adults has rescheduled and relocated its book reading event for kids with Drag performers due to safety concerns.

The owner of Urban Fort said it is unfortunate how people have responded to the event and is now taking precautions.

“Urban Fort is a place of acceptance and inclusion. Drag Storytime registrations are closed and the event has been moved to an undisclosed date, time and location to protect our patrons and employees,” owner, Megan King-Popp said. “We are concerned and dismayed with the violent threats our business and employees have received from opposition groups, and we’ve increased our security as a result. "

This week, three other LGBTQ-friendly businesses received death threats with homophobic slurs, including Prism STL in The Grove.

“It’s frustrating because we’re just people trying to be ourselves, trying to enjoy our lives,” said co-owner Sean Abernathy. “We’re not out to hurt anybody, but it feels like it’s a lot of people out to hurt us.”

On Tuesday, Attorney General Andrew Bailey demanded Missouri schools ban drag shows for school children.

“They want to classify it as a form of pornography or classify it as a form of adult content. It’s simply not that. It’s theater. Would you stop a child from seeing a show on Broadway?” local drag performer Ryan Klinghammer asked.

“I think if you’re going to make laws, you should know what you’re talking about, and you should understand drag is not about sex it’s an art form,” Abernathy said. “We got plenty of real problems out there they could be solving.”

Ryan Klinghammer is a transgender man and performs in drag shows under the stage name “Mars.” Klinghammer said despite wanting to share his love for theater and education with children, every time he’s tried, the events have been shut down.

“If I’m going to sit down and read to children, I’m going to be reading a kid’s book, I’m going to be showing them pictures. How is that harmful to children?”, Klinghammer says.

The AG was unavailable for an interview but said he will explain his stance at a later date. All of the businesses targeted have increased security.

“My community is here. We’re not going anywhere.”