Drag story time goes ahead without protest
On Saturday, there was a pleasant sense of relief when a planned anti-drag protest at the Giuffre Family Library branch of the Calgary Public Library failed to materialize.
Around 40 counter-protesters, stylized on social media as drag defenders, gathered outside the 1pm Reading with Royalty event.
If the planned protest had materialized, it would have been the second anti-drag protest in a week. Earlier on January 15, protesters attempted to disrupt an all-ages drag show at The Rec Room in northeast Calgary.
“It’s unfortunate that we still have to do this,” said Shane Onyou, one of the event’s readers.
“It feels like we’ve kind of slipped back, but the great thing is that we now have a tremendous amount of support.”
Counter-protest organizer Alyssa Bradac said she did so because of the aggressive response some of her friends received at previous Drag Story times.
“There were some really aggressive protesters to the point where one of the drag performers didn’t feel comfortable going in and doing the program,” Bradac said.
“Obviously, I think that’s irresponsible, especially for a program that just literally celebrates literacy and helps kids embrace themselves in their fullness.”
She called the lack of protesters who turned out for the Reading with Royalty event an amazing and wonderful thing. Although, Bradac said, as long as they resist them, the need to continue leading counter-protests would exist.
“I don’t know where they are, I don’t know if it was just a lot of talk, but the fact that our community was so willing to just come out and say, ‘Yes, we’re here,’ I think is fantastic,” said Bradac.
“We have so many problems in the world that I don’t think drag story times are one of them.”
LWC was able to independently confirm that some participants in the Jan. 15 protest instead attended Saturday’s regular anti-government anti-Mandate protest at Downtown Core.
Know more: Legal definitions affect Calgary’s ability to deal with protests “rooted in hate.”
Counter-protesters feel there is more to drag protests than just drag
Onyou called what protesters have said at various anti-drag protests around the city hatred of marginalized groups.
“I think people are angry, and I think there’s a lot of unaddressed issues around anger and they have nowhere to direct it, so they’re picking at marginalized groups,” Onyou said.
“People who were screaming in their backyards are now screaming in the street, and for us we’re not going back in the closet, so they have to get back in their backyards.”
The lack of attendance by protesters at the event is a sign that they may have begun to consider bigoted attitudes, said Native Calgarian host Michelle Robinson.
“I hope people start to see that we need to create safe spaces for our LGBTQ+ community, and hopefully we don’t have to do that anymore other than just go in and enjoy,” she said.
She said it was encouraging to see how many people turned out to make the event a safe one for library visitors.
“I’m really happy because I want my daughter to grow up in a safer and more community environment,” said Robinson.