A drag performer says protesters pushing false tropes about the queer community at a children’s book reading shows why Pride month is still needed.
“It’s important for queer children and youth to grow up knowing who they are is okay and to grow up in better, more tolerant understanding society.”
Police had to intervene as protesters interrupted the storytime session at Auckland’s Avondale Library yesterday.
That performer, Medulla Oblongata, has been doing reading events at libraries for three years and up until now they have never experienced anything like this.
“People come and witness how happy kids can be at these events, witnessing this magical wonder and often the storytelling and seeing their eyes light up, and experience the magic of drag in an age-appropriate way.”
Oblongata told the Herald it was “quite scary” but the “ignorance they were spewing” was nothing new to the gay community.
Although the library staff, Oblongata said, handled the situation really well and tried to distract the children as best as they could, Oblongata said the protesters kept coming up to the window and shouting.
“I am 100 per cent not afraid of these people, they don’t reflect the New Zealand that I know. We’ll never go back in the closet, and we’ll never be ashamed of who we are.
“It’s definitely echoing what is happening in the States, but it’s also our time as a society to nip this harmful extremism in the bud.”
Auckland Council head of Community delivery, North and West, Darryl Soljan said while the children were not disturbed, and the storyteller was safely escorted from the library, the incident was “distressing” for its team.
The event was part of Pride Fest Out West, and involved dancing, songs, and stories told by Oblongata.
In a video, viewed by the Herald, police are seen confronting the small group of protesters who claim they are asking “them [referring to drag performers] not to groom children”.
A police officer then said he had the authority to trespass the protesters as they had been asked to leave, and threatened to arrest one man.
The damaging false claim that drag performers doing the story times are “groomers” has been increasingly used in the US by opponents of drag, as well as the LGBTQ+ community to, what NBC describes as, “falsely equate it with paedophilia or other forms of child abuse”.
Soljan told the Herald the council’s libraries are vibrant community spaces, where everyone is welcome, without judgment or prejudice.
“These fun and child-friendly events focus on the magic of storytelling, with readers and performers who are members of our community too.
“Those who do not wish to partake in Drag Storytime are welcome to use our other libraries, or perhaps visit at another time of day.”