Drag queen storytime in Moncton draws a crowd
A drag queen storytime event at the Moncton Public Library drew a crowd Saturday afternoon.
When the event was announced online, there were calls on social media to protest at the downtown event. The LGBTQ community responded in kind by calling for supporters to show up as well.
Drag queen Justin 2D read a story in English and drag queen Barb Wire read a story in French. The event advertised that stories would address themes of respect, inclusion and self-acceptance.
According to Josh Vautour, president of Fierté Dieppe Pride, the Moncton Public Library and RCMP had a plan ahead of the event to make sure the drag performers doing storytime would be safe.
Vautour said he and a few other drag performers cancelled their adult show scheduled for Saturday night in Fredericton in order to show up and support the storytime event.
"There are some points we're trying to make people understand, that what you see on social media is not what we performers are at all times," he said. "We basically take our events or drag shows and we make sure that they're family friendly."
Protesters said they did not intend to harass anyone, but wanted to demonstrate peacefully.
Some claimed they were not opposed to the LGBTQ community, but thought children were being exposed to adult themes and adult performers.
However, LGBTQ supporters were not convinced.
"I normally don't step out to stuff like this, but this is something that needs to be stood up for," said Alexz Warford. "There's not a problem here. The only issue is these people with these [ideas] that we are harming these kids by reading a book."
This comes at a time when the State of Tennessee restricted public drag performances, while other U.S. states consider the same. Online discussions surrounding such performances can quickly escalate to slurs and threats.
A theatre in Eastern P.E.I. postponed a drag storytime last month following online backlash that featured expletives and anti-LGBTQ slurs.
Rebecca Rogers, a supporter of drag storytime, said she wasn't surprised to see a protest in New Brunswick. She thought she had to do something to keep them from shutting it down.
"I think Moncton is generally an accepting community," she said, but noted there are some segments of the population in the area that are less tolerant.
"So, it didn't surprise me at all that something like this would happen."
Rogers also said it felt great to see so many supporters to make sure the event went ahead.
"I'm glad people showed up and we're going to have a fun, peaceful time today."