Jenna Mckinney of Montana Family Rights Alliance says there is a “live-and-let-live” attitude in the Billings area, home to Zoo Montana, but welcoming drag queens is challenging the “comfort level” of many.
"It directly involves children in what a lot of parents would consider a sensitive situation,” she argues, “that requires conversations small children are not ready for."
But children are, unfortunately, the preferred audience. AFN reported last week the 70-acre wildlife park is allowing “406 Pride,” a Billings homosexual-rights group, to conduct a “story hour” despite uproar from the community to cancel the lewd event.
The zoo’s executive director, Jeff Ewelt, has defended 406 Pride and dismissed the controversy because, in his words, drag queen story hour “happens across the country and actually has rave reviews."
"It is not a burlesque show," Ewelt told KTVQ, a local TV news station. "It is literally somebody sitting in a chair reading a book."
The public knows by now, however, that is not true. A drag show is when homosexual men with a sexual fetish for women’s clothes perform lewd dancing in front of other men. In the story hour, that perverse performance has been replaced with an audience of innocent children brought by "progressive" parents who attend in the name of “tolerance” and “equality.” Yet the perverse men who dress in outlandish costumes sometimes use their sexually suggestive stage names. Some of them have been filmed dancing provocatively in front of children in a sickening performance that would normally get a man arrested.
AFN has also pointed out that most book readings involve an LGBT-themed book. So parents who take their children cannot claim they went to to hear “Cat in the Hat” from a bearded man wearing a sequin dress and pantyhose.
Far from being normal, the 406 Pride group that is hosting the “story hour” is meeting later in the week for a late-night “Gay Men’s Social” with “Bears, Leathermen, Gear and Kink," according to its own website.
Despite all of that evidence, the embattled Ewelt has picked a side. In a Facebook post last week, he wrote "it's time we work together to stop hate and bigotry."
The zoo boss also said people should not attend if they disagree with the performance. "Not sure why that is so hard," wrote Ewelt, as if not paying a zoo ticket fixes the controversy.
According to McKinney, Ewelt’s defiant response shows he doesn’t want to hear concerns, or listen to a different opinion, and so what could be an honest discussion gets shut down.
"As somebody who runs a public venue that serves especially families with small children,” she asks, “why not have public comment and really assess how this is going to go over?"
In a lengthy statement emailed to AFN, Ewelt said an “outside group” rented the facility, referring to 406 Pride. He also pointed out the drag queen story hour is “pay to attend,” meaning zoo guests can choose whether to attend or not.
In the same email, the zoo boss also directly defended the event, too, because it “does fit the agenda of many” despite some who oppose it.
“We have been contacted by many parents,” he wrote, “that see this as a great opportunity for their children.”