Man charged for child porn didn’t work for Drag Queen Story Hour
CLAIM: The head of Drag Queen Story Hour was arrested for child pornography.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. A man who was arrested on child pornography charges last year had previously run a separate organization that acted as a nonprofit fiscal sponsor for Drag Queen Story Hour’s Milwaukee chapter. But he never worked for Drag Queen Story Hour, nor did he help plan its events, according to the group’s executive director.
THE FACTS: Misleading, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in recent months has targeted drag storytimes — kid-friendly story hours in public spaces led by performers dressed in drag — with claims that the events are abusive or harmful to children.
Among the widely shared misinformation is the false claim that the head of a national organization that organizes the drag storytimes was arrested on child pornography charges.
The claim appeared in headlines on conservative websites last year, and thousands of social media users have resurfaced them this week.
“Oh, OK, let’s see what’s in the news today,” a woman in one video says, leaning aside to reveal a green screen with the headline, “Head Of ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ Org Arrested For Child Porn.” The woman goes on to explain that this is why she is vocal against the events.
But the headline is false. The story refers to Brett Blomme, a Milwaukee County Children’s Court judge, who in March 2021 was arrested and charged in state court for seven counts of possession of child pornography. Those charges were later dropped in exchange for Blomme pleading guilty in federal court to two counts of distributing child pornography.
Before Blomme was elected as a judge in spring 2020, he was CEO of the Cream City Foundation, an LGBTQ nonprofit that nods to Milwaukee’s nickname as “Cream City” for its cream-colored bricks. The Cream City Foundation at the time was a nonprofit fiscal sponsor for Drag Queen Story Hour’s Milwaukee chapter, its executive director said. That relationship allowed the non-tax-exempt Drag Queen Story Hour Milwaukee to receive donations.
Besides being a fiscal sponsor, the Cream City Foundation has “had no part in DQSH Milwaukee & DQSH National,” Drag Queen Story Hour Executive Director Jonathan Hamilt told The Associated Press in an email. “DQSH Milwaukee has never been run by the Cream City Foundation nor Brett Blomme, nor have either participated in planning, organizing, hosting or performing at any of our events. Brett has never held a title or position within our organization ever.”
Cream City Foundation confirmed these details. In an emailed statement, it said the fiscal agency agreement between the two entities was “purely transactional.”
Hamilt said Drag Queen Story Hour condemns pedophilia and is “angry and outraged” by Blomme’s actions.
After Blomme’s arrest in 2021, the Cream City Foundation published a statement saying it was “deeply troubled, angered and shocked to learn of the allegations involving our former CEO.”
In December 2021, a federal judge sentenced Blomme to nine years in prison for distributing child pornography. Blomme apologized in court, acknowledging his crimes were “disgusting and outrageous.”
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.