Thousands attend ZooMontana's Drag Queen Story Hour as protesters line the street

CHRISTINE COMPTON

Two weeks ago, a zoo official said they were committing its drag queen event even after intense blowback. On Wednesday, the event went live, and both supporters and protesters saw it as a massive step for Billings. Whether it’s a step in the right or wrong direction depended on who you asked.

The event was a Drag Queen Story Hour scheduled by 406 Pride, a local LGBTQ resource group that organized Billings Pride 2022. Inspired by previous story hours across the nation, three Montana drag queens arrived at ZooMontana to read children’s books over a four-hour period for $4 a ticket.

Although the zoo originally anticipated around 40 attendees, seats filled fast on Wednesday. Within the first 15 minutes, 200 were seated, new rows of foldable chairs were added, and the entry line spilled into the parking lot. By the end of the day, the zoo estimated as many as 2,000 tickets were sold.

Residents line up at ZooMontana as a Drag Queen Story Hour takes place on Wednesday. 

LARRY MAYER, Billings Gazette

The overwhelming support came largely as

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