All-ages drag brunch in Calgary met with protesters, counter-protesters for 2nd time in less than a month

Counter-protesters turned up in support of a drag brunch in Calgary this Sunday. (Tom Ross/CBC - image credit)
Counter-protesters turned up in support of a drag brunch in Calgary this Sunday. (Tom Ross/CBC - image credit)

More than 100 counter-protesters gathered outside the Rec Room in northeast Calgary to support an all-ages drag brunch in the face of protesters on Sunday.

It's the second time in less than a month that a drag event in Calgary has been met with this opposition. In December, a drag brunch in Inglewood was met with protests, while another brunch was cancelled, citing threatening phone calls.

Protests have happened at all-ages drag events elsewhere, including in several U.S. states where drag story readings have been disrupted.

Some people, like community advocate for LGBTQ issues Anna Murphy, anticipate these protests becoming a pattern in Calgary — but said the counter-protesters on Sunday gave her hope.

She says it's important to continue to show up and "demonstrate who we truly are as Calgarians, which is a community that is safe, welcoming and affirming."

She also wants to see politicians and community organizations demonstrating allyship and affirming trans and queer people in order to show that "spreading misinformation, ignorance and hate … is not who we are as a community."

Tom Ross/CBC
Tom Ross/CBC

Signs held by protesters on Sunday had messages against exposing kids to "adult entertainers," and some conflated drag shows with pedophilia. Some also carried signs saying "Jesus is Lord."

Some far right groups have alleged that all-ages drag events sexualize children or set them up to be groomed by sexual predators.

A performer who goes by the name Comrad Borscht said that, in reality, all-ages drag events are a safe, comforting space for queer children, and that organizers and performers consider their audience and make the art appropriate for kids.

"They do their best to make sure that it's just silly dancing to silly songs or or rhinestones, big hair, crazy stuff."

A larger police presence was noticeable at the protest outside the Rec Room on Sunday compared to the one in Inglewood in December, but there was no physical violence.

By early afternoon, only a handful of protesters remained.