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On a recent Sunday, Mile High Comics held its monthly charity talent show, a family-friendly event hosted by drag queens. Across the street, several men who disapproved of the gender-bending aspects of the performance shouted that those entering the building (including many children) would rot in hell if they didn’t repent. Fortunately, the kids never got the message—thanks to a row of 100 people standing between the two parties and twirling multicolored umbrellas.
Dubbed the Parasol Patrol, the nonprofit started a year ago when protesters first came to the event. Eli Bazan, a military veteran, suggested using umbrellas (essentially large, easy-to-wield barriers) to guard children from the vitriol. He and co-founder Pasha Eve recruited volunteers, and the crew has attended every show since. They’ve also been invited to other affairs, including drag queen storytelling hours at local children’s bookstore Second Star to the Right.
The patrol doesn’t engage the protesters; it just blocks them and provides earmuffs to children on request. It’s been so successful that schools and businesses around the country, such as High Point Central High School in North Carolina, have asked for help creating patrols. Bazan and Eve are working on a training video and raising money for ear protection and umbrellas to send out to burgeoning groups—rain or shine.