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‘Caught folks off guard’: Drag Queen Storytime host Poison Waters reacts to event cancelation

By Aimee Plante,


PORTLAND, Ore. ( KOIN ) – Drag performer Poison Waters was slated to host a Drag Queen Storytime at Tigard Public Library on Sunday. That is, until online threats took over social media .

On Thursday, the library announced a decision to cancel the event due to “threats of violence and an indication that the safety of the community may be jeopardized.” Additionally, the library will close for the entire day.

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Kevin Cook, who performs under the stage name Poison Waters, said he noticed hateful messages on social media about the event before he was scheduled to host it.

“The protesters want to make sure they have all the seats in the event so they don’t leave any rooms for the families and the children, which is kind of the opposite of what their message is,” Cook said. “They want to attend the drag queen story time instead of families? I’m very confused.”

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Drag Queen Storytime is an event hosted by local drag queens who read children’s books to promote reading and diversity. It has recently come under fire across the nation – causing libraries to cancel events for fear of their readers’ safety.

Cook said the biggest misconception about Drag Queen Storytime is that “there is anything remotely sexual going on,” comparing his role to being a clown at a party.
Poison Waters was among the speakers featured at Snack Bloc’s Bloc Party at the Eastbank Esplanade on Saturday. June 20, 2020 (KOIN)

“We feel, in my opinion, a little unduly insulated in this area, because Portland is normally accepting in this area,” he said. “I think it’s caught folks off guard a bit.”

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KOIN 6 reached out to the Tigard Police Department to get more information about how the threats were communicated, but they declined to give specifics.

However, officials say the threats are “isolated to this specific event, and library patrons shouldn’t be concerned about unrelated events or visiting the library in general.”

Tigard Mayor Heidi Lueb issued a statement Friday saying the following, in part:

I want to share my deep sadness and disappointment with all of you that due to threats of violence and safety concerns our Drag Queen Storytime at the Tigard Library was canceled. Like many of you, I was looking forward to attending the event with my family.

Safety is our first priority and our Tigard Police Department and law enforcement partners worked very hard to support this event. The decision to cancel was not taken lightly – it wasn’t as simple as adding more officers to ensure community safety. This continues to be an ongoing investigation and we are not releasing more about the nature of the threats or who made them.

There are many successful Drag Queen Story events across the country happening and I understand that not all our community events are for everyone. I hope in the future we can continue an exchange of ideas and opinions without the threat of violence.

Tigard is committed to building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community for all. We’re a community that values and celebrates all our members, including members of our LGBTQIA+ community. Representation matters and the truth of that statement has become even more evident to me with my tenure as the first female mayor of Tigard. I promise that we will continue to plan events that support all members of our community.

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