Drag Queen Story Time supporters shout down protesters in Coquitlam, B.C.

Drag queen Conni Smudge, created by Chris Bolton, was supported by hundreds of people at the Drag Queen Story Time at Coquitlam Public Library on Saturday, Jan. 14. (Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters - image credit)
Drag queen Conni Smudge, created by Chris Bolton, was supported by hundreds of people at the Drag Queen Story Time at Coquitlam Public Library on Saturday, Jan. 14. (Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters - image credit)

Supporters of an inclusive reading event in Coquitlam, B.C., on Saturday were the latest to shout down a small group of protesters who have been targeting the events.

It's the second time the Coquitlam Public Library has hosted a Drag Queen Story Time, similar to events that have been held across North America since 2015 as a way to create diverse, accessible, and culturally-inclusive family programming.

Saturday's event hosted drag queen Conni Smudge, whom police escorted as she arrived.

Meanwhile, about 100 supporters of the event played loud music, waved rainbow flags and shouted at about 10 protesters who held signs that read, "Stop Drag Queen Story Hour," "Gays against Groomers," and "Sexualizing Children is Child Abuse."

"Yes there were some haters outside but I would say we blew them out of the water," said Smudge, who is the creation of drag artist Chris Bolton.

Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters
Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters

"I couldn't feel the haters," Smudge added.

"All those children inside, and all of their clever parents who want these kids to grow up exactly who they are, being their authentic selves, and being loving and caring about each other — I wouldn't want to be involved in anything else."

In 2019, a similar event in Kelowna created controversy when the Okanagan Regional Library's CEO spoke out against the event, saying it could be divisive.

Smudge said she was drawn to the drag story time events because libraries were a safe haven for when her creator, Bolton, was growing up.

"A nice comfy place that I could read and find out about the world. Libraries are about belonging and I never felt like I belonged."

Detractors of the events argue that cross-dressing storytellers could indoctrinate or sexualize children, while supporters say the glitzy story times aim to celebrate diversity in a safe space, saying it's prejudice that hurts children, not drag queens.

WATCH | Coquitlam resident talks about the importance of inclusion in her community:

Children at the event told CBC News they enjoyed the story hour and were excited to see a drag queen in real life.

Samantha Wink, who speaks for the Coquitlam Public Library, said Saturday's large, positive turn-out was evidence the events are resonating with the city. More are slated to be held, she said.

"I think having a turnout of this size really shows that there is an appetite for the community in attending events that really promote inclusion," said Wink.

Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters
Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters

Selina Robinson, the MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville and minister of post-secondary education and future skills, also showed up in support of the event.

"Love is louder than hate. Coquitlam is my community and I was elected by a strong majority to represent folks who call Coquitlam home," she tweeted afterwards.