POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - During a Pocatello City Council meeting last Thursday, local carpenter Ted King said he planned to protest Reading Time With the Queens - a program hosted at the Marshall Public Library where drag queens read, sing and teach sign language to kids.
King created a change.org petition which he hoped would gain support from the community. Instead, he found that there were more who supported the event than those was opposed to it.
King declined to be interviewed but said in a message that he "acted before looking into the program."
"I presumed to think for an entire community on something I didn't know much about personally," he wrote.
King said he was "pained" to see that his actions had made some feel hated, adding that he was aware he had acted in ignorance and wanted to apologize to anyone he made feel hated.
The program, which has been running in Pocatello since 2017, was started by Cali Je, whose legal name is Joseph Crupper.
Cali, whose preferred pronouns are she/her when in drag, said she attended the Pocatello City Council meeting in plain clothes.
"As a queer person, I get to deal with a lot of negative behavior towards my expression, or my identity, so I think in a way it was kind of same old, same old," she said. "It was kind of on a heightened level, but it was not anything I hadn’t heard or had told to me before."
Since 2017, Cali said there's been very limited negative feedback, most of which has been improperly directed at the library. Though the Marshall Public Library is the monthly meeting spot for the program, the library is not the event's host.
While not necessarily happy about the situation, Cali said she tries to find the silver linings every time the program is in the news.
"Because lots of people get to know about the event and they say really nice things on our pages, they message me directly, and thank us for doing the program."
According to Cali, the library has told her that they can't bar anyone from using the space if they follow the library rules and do so in a respectful manner.
"I am really proud of my community for stepping up to the plate saying 'Hey, we do accept all types of people here and we do encourage them making good things in our community, regardless of their identity,'" she said.
The next event is planned for 11:30 a.m. this Saturday at the Marshall Public Library in Old Town Pocatello.
King's original petition has since been deleted.