The hot pink façade is impossible to miss.
The Teatotaller Café in Concord, owned by Emmett Soldati, opened in 2022 with a goal of projecting inclusivity and creating a welcoming atmosphere for queer people.
It’s also attracted the attention of hate groups in the state, which have been targeting drag story hours hosted by the venue, according to Soldati.
This past weekend, the Proud Boys handed out pamphlets in Concord ahead of a Sunday drag story hour the café had publicly advertised.
The handout disparaged drag story events, and accused Teatotaller of “stealing the innocence of our children.” They urged readers to call the café, the mayor, and to leave negative reviews online.
The Proud Boys also handed out cards that read “Join or die,” with a QR code leading to a website for the New Hampshire chapter of the far-right, neo-fascist militant group.
But group members didn’t show up on Sunday, and drag story hour proceeded without interruption, according to peacekeepers who monitored the event.
Soldati told the Globe he thinks the Proud Boy’s tactics are ineffective: Google removes reviews condemning drag story hour, and the pamphlets often end up sending new customers to the café.
“No number of stickers and flyers is going to sway what we are doing, which is not only building communities but illuminating the communities already here,” he said. “We didn’t make Concord gay, we helped reveal how many neighbors are on the same page already.”
He said he’s been putting on drag story hour events for around six years, and called it a fun way to gather people with broad community support. Before opening the Teatotaller in Concord, he hosted events at a Somersworth location that has since closed. It was only after drag story hours became politicized by conservatives nationally, he said, that he started getting calls meant to intimidate. The first one came in about a year and a half ago, he said, and hate groups didn’t show up at an event until about a year ago.
“I just think they really picked the wrong target,” he said. “At the core, there is no substance to the position that they have around what story hour does for children, other than make them feel excited and teach them lessons and literacy.”
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