Drag Queen Story Time sparks protest outside Kelowna, B.C. library

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Drag story time sparks protest outside Kelowna Library
The return of drag story time at Kelowna's downtown library sparked a large protest Saturday, with some feeling the event is controversial and inappropriate for children, while others are in full support. Victoria Femia reports. – Jan 28, 2023

The return of drag story time at Kelowna’s downtown library sparked a large protest Saturday morning, with hundreds showing up in support of both sides.

The library hosted a drag storytime, featuring performer Freida Whales, where she read children’s books to kids. However, not everyone approved of the event, and those protesting against it deemed the drag story time inappropriate.

“For the children, I think it’s a little over the top. I think it should be something kept in the nightclubs. None of us here are against the gay community,” said protestor Harry Hough.

On the other side of the protest, drag queen allies came out rejecting any negative statements and continued to advocate for the event.

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“I fully support drag queens reading to children. It’s just a performance art, it’s just like going to the theatre. The kids love it and it supports inclusion and diversity and I love it,” said supporter Aden Withers.

Inside the library, hundreds of children were excited for Freida Whales to begin her reading and parents were in full support.

“I think it’s just a cool experience. At the end of the day for them, it’s just seeing someone in a cool outrageous outfit like you would see in a Disney movie,” said parent Charlie Handsome.

The library says drag storytime is part of its Community Reader Storytime series, and the last time a drag queen was part of it was back in 2019.

“What’s special about the event is it really showcases diversity and inclusivity and captures a segment of the population that’s not always looked upon positively or accepted by mainstream society. It’s our role as a library to represent and support all the members of society,” said Okanagan Regional Library CEO Danielle Hubbard.

“In the two or three weeks leading up to the event, we’ve been inundated with public feedback. Much of it is positive, with people saying that they’re glad to see themselves represented at the library. We certainly have received negative feedback as well and I think the reason we hold the event is proven out today.”

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As for Frieda Whales, the controversy surrounding the reading has only made her more popular.

“I’m already booked for a lot more after this. The whole controversy actually got me quite a few more bookings, so thanks,” Freida Whales said.

Police were on hand monitoring the protest. While it was kept fairly peaceful, people spent most of the day chanting their thoughts on the storytime.

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