A group protesting a drag storytime event at the Moncton Library was met by a much larger group of counter-protestors Saturday afternoon.
The event saw two local drag performers reading stories to kids, reflecting on the themes of inclusivity and acceptance.
A couple dozen people, some of whom said they wanted to protect children from “adult thoughts,” were outnumbered at least two-to-one by supporters of the event.
Sarah Kardash, one of the counter-protestors, says she feels it’s important to protect public spaces for people of diverse backgrounds.
“I’m here to support our queer and trans communities, to support access for kids to inclusive, diverse spaces and stories,” she said.
New Brunswick drag queen decries death threats, protests over story-time event
Moncton, N.B. library drag storytime faces online backlash
Another counter-protestor said drag storytime events present a chance for children to learn about people from different backgrounds.
“It’s a wonderful event and it teaches children to learn about respect, diversity, inclusion in a safe space,” said Caitlin Furlong.
Those protesting the event told reporters that they have no problem with the LBGTQ2 community, but felt these types of events shouldn’t be for children, claiming that it sexualizes and confuses them.
“We’re concerned about what the children are being exposed to,” said protestor Jeremy Gibson.
“A lot of it is OK, but a lot of it is not. It’s up to the parents and the fact that people think they can determine over a parent’s call what that child is exposed to is wrong.”
Nelson, B.C. library postpones drag storytime event after receiving threats
Asked if it should be up to parents whether or not to bring their kids to these sorts of events, Gibson claimed they are “being pushed in the schools and the libraries without the parents’ knowledge.”
The crowd of counter-protestors included Josh Vautour, who is a drag performer who goes by the name Equinox and has been involved in drag storytime events in the past. He cancelled a show in Fredericton to be part of the counter-protest on Saturday and said the protestors fundamentally misunderstand what message the drag storytime events look to convey.
“People pick and choose what they think drag is and they’re not trying to learn and understand what our values are and what we’re doing as performers and what we’re trying to promote,” he said.
Those values are diversity, self-acceptance, inclusivity and creativity.
Vautour said that while drag is an art form that began in adult spaces like LGBTQ2 clubs, where it continues to be practiced, drag storytimes are a very different thing. The events are family-friendly, with costumes involving “big gowns, big hair, beautiful jewelry.”
“It’s hurtful hearing all that because it’s not what we are. It’s an art form, we’re being creative, we’re colourful, we spread love,” he said.
“Everyone that comes to our show always says that we are very welcoming.”
There was a small police presence outside the library and some from the two groups did speak heatedly at times but, in the end, the event took place without incident.