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Vanessa Carr, right, and Blazen Haven read to children during Drag Queen Story Time Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, at the Alvar Library in New Orleans. Baton Rouge Pride will host a Drag Queen Story Time on Sunday at the Aveda Institute.

It took less than 72 hours for 250 spots to fill up at Baton Rouge Pride's Drag Queen Story Time.

"The fact that 250 went that quick just blew my mind," Christopher Bradford, Baton Rouge Pride chairman, said.

The organization also saw a spike in social media traffic. The event, being held Sunday at the Aveda Institute, has drawn a lot of attention, Bradford said, from supporters — and a handful of detractors.

The event, a first for Baton Rouge, will feature two drag performers, decked out as princesses, reading to children ages 3 and up and their parents. There will also be discussions about the two children's books being read and snacks provided by St. Margaret's Episcopal Church.

Although Sunday's session is filled up, Bradford said Baton Rouge Pride hopes it'll become a regular event.

BR Pride has kept the two children's books a surprise, Bradford said, but "both of the books are about acceptance and anti-bullying." There has been a heavy focus on those themes since the event was announced in early November: Bradford and BR Pride leadership released a statement that said: "This event is designed to help future generations learn about acceptance, inclusion and most important anti-bullying."

BR Pride, which hosts its annual one-day festival in June, has been planning to host more events for the LGBTQ community throughout the year, Bradford said. Similar drag queen story hour events have become popular in larger cities, so it made sense to try it in Baton Rouge.

BR Pride wants to program more family-friendly events, and a focus on diversity and inclusion fits into the organization's mission. "It was something that's been done before, so it's not recreating the wheel, which helps us a little bit," Bradford said.

But the organization worried the Baton Rouge event would carry a negative connotation, Bradford said, considering recent controversy around a similar event in Lafayette.

In August, a group of University of Louisiana at Lafayette students — members of a provisional chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men — announced a drag queen story time event at the Lafayette Parish Library. The plans set off heated arguments among residents and officials that lasted for two months. The event was eventually postponed.

Bradford said BR Pride wanted to plan its event carefully: The organization partnered with cosmetology school Aveda Institute to host the event at its Sherwood Forest business; it issued the statement clarifying the event's intention; and it's emphasizing that this is a kid-friendly event with nonprovocative princess costumes.

The names of the drag performers have also been withheld in order to reduce the chance of online harassment, Bradford said.

"A lot of people worry that you're putting kids in front of something sexually-oriented way too soon," Bradford said, "when there's nothing sexual about it."


Sunday's Drag Queen Story Time is sold out, but Baton Rouge Pride will host a Bowling with Pride event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at Circle Bowl on Florida Boulevard. Tickets are $25. For more about Baton Rouge Pride and its upcoming events, go to batonrougepride.org.

Follow Jake Clapp on Twitter @Jake_Clapp

Red Editor