GASTONIA, N.C. — The Owl + Ivy Healing Arts and Bohemian Style shop at 70 S. South St. in Gastonia played host to a growing phenomenon, A Drag Queen Story Hour on March 16.

Shelita Bonet Hoyle, aka Matt Ramsey, along with two other Charlotte drag performers, read to a group of children and parents. The kids also got to make their own prince and princess wands, and were treated to a dance party. Materials for the project were donated by the Gender Education Network of Charlotte, which also provided volunteers for the event.

Ramsey, as Shelita Bonet Hoyle read “I Am Jazz” and “My Princess Boy.” “I Am Jazz” is based on the real life story of Jazz Jennings, of TLC series fame. “My Princess Boy,” by Cheryl Kilodavis, was written for and about her gender non-conforming son Dyson, who declared to the author, “I am a princess boy!”.

According to their web page, Drag Queen Story Hour was founded in San Francisco by author Michelle Tea and RADAR productions, a San Francisco-based non-profit. The reserved spots for story hour filled up in less than 24 hours.

While Shelita and the other queens were entertaining the kids and their parents, a few protesters outside exercised their free speech rights to expound on what they see as a perversion of biblical gender roles and presentation. As in a recent protest at Five Forks Library in Greenville, S.C., protesters used Old Testament prohibitions against “men dressing as women.”

The protesters were small in number and stood opposite the downtown Gastonia shop, described on its Facebook page as “A spiritual shop… that celebrates world cultures, metaphysical studies and bohemian lifestyle.”