Moncton, N.B. library drag storytime faces online backlash

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick drag queen decries death threats, protests over story-time event'
New Brunswick drag queen decries death threats, protests over story-time event
WATCH: A New Brunswick drag queen says she's received death threats related to a story time she will be co-hosting at the Moncton library on Saturday. The event has created an online backlash, with protests planned outside the library. As Suzanne Lapointe reports, LGBTQ allies are planning on showing up to shield the performers from the protesters. – Mar 10, 2023

Fredericton resident Annabelle Babineau, also known as her drag persona Barb Wire, said she’s been receiving online harassment following the announcement she would be co-hosting a drag story time for children along with fellow drag performer Alex Saunders, who goes by Justin Toodeep.

“I have gotten death threats,” she told Global News in an interview on Friday.

She said the comments she receives are often accusing her and other drag performers of trying to confuse or groom children.

“I have gotten hateful comments and stuff online. All we’re trying to do is share our art and we make our art appropriate for the audience we’re performing to.”

Babineau is a textile artist and has hosted a story time for children out of drag, which she said was well received.

Though she has been performing as Barb Wire for five years, she has never done a drag story time precisely because they often provoke controversy.

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A group of LGBTQ2 community members and allies are planning a counterprotest in response to the backlash.

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“If there are some vocal or disruptive people protesting the event we will make sure that we put ourselves between them and the children, parents and performers for their protection,” Moncton resident Scott Agnew said on Friday.

“I was really made aware about some of the hatred that’s going around online about this and some of the vitriol by my daughter, who is queer herself, and her partner is trans. So this directly impacts me, it impacts my family,” he said.

Drag performer Tommy Des Rosiers, who performs under the name Rose Beef, will also be there to show his support.

He will be hosting his first drag story time next month and has already received some hateful comments.

He said he doesn’t understand the backlash, as the only purpose of a drag story time is to entertain children.

“Would you rather have a drag queen with a dress and big hair colour whatever … or just me in a suit reading a book? It’s just visually … children are fascinated by colours and shapes,” he said.

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Babineau and Des Rosiers have both faced threats to their safety linked to their drag performances.

Des Rosiers finds it baffling.

“People want to kill me because I make people laugh in a wig and it’s not a lifestyle that they chose?” he said.

He said it’s exhausting to deal with.

“Why do I have to fight for this? This is not a debate. There are so much more important things in New Brunswick, in Canada than drag story times. Why do we fight over this? This is stupid,” he said.

Babineau said she and Saunders are looking forward to reading books about diversity and acceptance to children on Saturday, regardless of the backlash.

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