Salem, Massachusetts, is today a tourist attraction because in 1692 19 people who appeared or acted differently from the majority were hanged as witches.

Selma, Alabama, to this day evokes the image from 1964 of peacefully marching people, many of them elderly, with dark skin and different facial features being attacked by white police in riot gear with snarling dogs and clubs.

I thought of these as I read “Waterville children’s bookstore gets backlash for drag queen event” on May 14.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro drew scornful national attention to our community when he gratuitously ridiculed on social media a traumatized Florida student who had survived a mass shooting and was pleading for adults to stop gun violence in our nation.

Apparently learning nothing from that experience about his responsibility as an elected representative and chief executive officer of our city, he has now gone on social media again to call upon bigots and homophobes to assemble (peaceably of course) on Waterville’s Main Street to protest the appearance of a male dressed as a woman reading to children at Waterville’s wonderful Children’s Book Cellar.

If his intent is to intimidate and shame store owner Ellen Richmond for introducing children to the idea that LGBTQ people may be different in some ways but they are not scary or possessed witches and should be respected and treated kindly like we all want to be treated, I believe he has underestimated Ms. Richmond and badly misjudged her intent. I saw in the paper the following day that I will not be alone in rising to her defense.

I believe Ellen Richmond is committed to inspiring children to have a fulfilling life of curiosity and learning and to not be afraid or judgmental of differences in others.

David R. Hedrick

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