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Neo-Nazi gathering causes drag queen to cancel story hour in the Seaport

"I just could not face the neo-Nazis today I said turn this Uber around."

A group of protesters march outside of West Roxbury District Court in support of two counter protesters who were arrested in July in a clash with neo-Nazi group NSC-131. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Local neo-Nazi group the National Socialist Club, also known NSC-131, is once again targeting Boston drag queen Patty Bourrée’s story hour for children.

On Sunday, the group gathered outside The Paseo at 111 Harbor Way in Boston’s Seaport District masked and carrying a banner. This is the second time the group has shown up to one of Bourrée’s story hours.

“I just could not face the neo-Nazis today I said turn this Uber around,” Bourrée tweeted Sunday.

On July 23, they protested outside the story hour in Jamaica Plain, leading to the arrest of their leader, 23-year-old Christopher Hood, for disturbing the peace. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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“But this is a reminder that yes our city is being held hostage by neo-Nazis,” Bourrée tweeted Sunday.

The story hour at The Paseo is a biweekly event that is supposed to take place every other Sunday through Aug. 21.

“DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models,” the description of the event reads.

“In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish and where dress up is real.”

The Anti-Defamation League describes NSC-131 as a New England-based anti-Semitic hate group. They and other neo-Nazi groups have been increasing activity in Boston and Massachusetts in the last few months.

In an interview with GBH’s Sue O’Connell in the wake of the first neo-Nazi disruption, Patty Bourrée, said that in the last few months, there hasn’t been a story hour that didn’t have demonstrations against it or the threat of such demonstrations.

“This only increases my resolve to do it, because if you’re making the right people mad, it makes me feel like I’m on the right track with what I’m doing,” Bourrée said.

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Bourrée explained during the GBH interview that, despite some confusion among the public, a drag queen’s performance at a children’s story hour is not the same as a club performance.

“I think it’s totally understandable for people to be worried that a drag queen story hour means the same type of performance you’d see at a drag brunch,” Bourrée said.

“…But drag queens are pretty smart people, and we know when to do what and where and how. The drag queen story hours are really intended to promote literacy and creativity and self love in kids, and it’s done through reading books and singing songs. That’s pretty much it.”

Bourrée said the kids at the story hour on Saturday were mostly under five, and kids of this age typically just enjoy the performance and don’t ask many questions.

Oftentimes kids react much the same way they would to a Disney princess at Disney World, according to Bourrée.

“They enjoy the colors of the costume, they like the scale of drag, which can be very exaggerated,” she said.

Bourrée said older children in late elementary school are more likely to ask questions about gender identity. Their questions often spur worthwhile conversations, according to Bourrée.

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“These events are just so wholesome that the disparity between the reaction and the reality — you gotta laugh,” Bourrée said.

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Rev. Irene Monroe, co-host of GBH’s “All Rev’d Up” podcast, said many activists believe it’s important to stick up for things like drag queen story hour because the people who protest these events are “equal opportunity offenders.”

This means they will protest a range of things which are tied to many different marginalized identities, she said.

“No matter what our identity might be, it’s important to speak up, because there’ll come a moment when they come for us, and there’ll be no one to speak up for us,” she said.

Monroe added that it’s important for minorities to be able to be open and proud, so as to prevent creating a “politic of silence” around their identity, and to allow society to grow and be more accepting of differences.

“Children learn what you teach. If you teach hate, they will go out into the world and hate the world,” she said. “If you teach love, like what Patty is doing, they’ll embrace the world, but also themselves.”

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