Atlanta mayor to host snubbed drag queen’s story time at City Hall

A date has been set for when Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will host a local drag queen to read to children at City Hall. This comes after the county library system pulled its support for an event that was held at an Alpharetta branch.

Story time will be June 29, as announced this week by the city's office of LGBTQ affairs and Miss Terra Cotta Sugarbaker — the drag persona of 40-year-old Buford native Steven Igarashi-Ball.

“I can’t think of anything better to do to raise the next generation of young people,” Igarashi-Ball told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday.

Bottoms made the invitation April 5 over Twitter: "Miss Terra Cotta Sugarbaker and all of our LGBTQ friends are always welcome at Atlanta City Hall." The mayor included a link to the AJC story about Igarashi-Ball being snubbed. Atlanta LGBTQ magazine Project Q first reported about the situation.

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Igarashi-Ball, who performs drag mostly during charity events and doesn’t perform in clubs, has been holding story time at the Ponce de Leon Avenue library branch for 1½ years. He said he was invited to hold the event in Alpharetta by the staff at the library branch after they saw how successful the event was at the Ponce de Leon branch.

He the library system decided to withdraw its promotion of the Alpharetta event, but allowed an unsanctioned version of the event at the library on April 27.

The supporters, including Alpharetta Mayor Pro-Tem Donald Mitchell, outweighed what Igarashi-Ball described as “detractors.”

Igarashi-Ball said a small group of protesters took up the front row, upsetting some parents and children who wanted to get a good seat for story time.

His events are part of a national “Drag Queen Story Hour” movement that began in San Francisco and entails drag queens reading books to children at libraries.

BACKGROUND | Drag queen reading event at Alpharetta library removed from calendar

No library or county officials explained the calendar change. Spokeswoman for the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, which includes Alpharetta and Ponce de Leon branches, Jessica Corbitt-Dominguez said the event was not canceled.

She gave the following statement: “We appreciate the community support for the Drag Queen Story Time event, which has been successful and well received at the Ponce de Leon Library. We recommended to the organizer that it continue at the location where it has a strong track record. ... Not every program is offered at every location.”

For the City Hall story time, Igarashi-Ball said the city has planned to give out 1,000 free tickets.

He doesn’t know what book he’ll pick to read to the mayor and children but he said he usually picks tales “celebrating who you are.”