London’s Wortley Pride sees anti-drag storytime and counter protest

An anti-drag storytime protest and a counter protest took place at the corner of Elmwood Avenue East and Wortley Road on Saturday, June 10, 2023. Kelly Wang/980 CFPL

The Green in London’s Wortley Village was jam-packed with people, Pride flags and a group of anti-drag storytime protestors on Saturday.

The protest and a counter protest took place at the corner of Elmwood Avenue East and Wortley Road, just outside the Wortley Pride festival.

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The protesters had a sign that read, “Why do drag queens feel the need to perform in front of our children???” while counter-protesters were heard chanting, “trans rights are human rights.”

Alex Ogilvie attended the event with a homemade sign that read, “LGBTQ+ = HUMAN.”

He told 980 CFPL he was attending to counter protest.

“Pride is support. It’s a safe place for people who are part of the community who haven’t had it before. It’s important to everyone,” he said. “(We) have to keep fighting or else it’s never going to get better.”

Alex Ogilvie. Kelly Wang/980 CFPL

A London man was charged last year with causing a disturbance and possession of a weapon after disrupting the event.

Due to this incident as well as the protest, the president of Wortley Pride, Kathy Bell-Copeland, says extra security was called-in for this year’s festival.

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“(The protestors) have attacked us on social media and advised us they’re coming, so we took extra precautions to make sure everyone would be protected,” she said. “We’ve had some instances where people have spray-painted on the ground, but we’ve covered it with hearts so people can’t read it.”

Over on the Green, Jordan Lock was taking her young daughter to Wortley Pride so she can meet drag queens for the first time.

“She had never seen drag queens in real-life before, and that just happened, so it’s pretty awesome,” she said.

“I’ve grown up in the gay community my whole life. I’ve been around many drag queens and they’re some of the kindest people,” Lock said in response to the anti-drag storytime protest. “People that are scared (are) fear-driven, they don’t really know. That’s sad, but hopefully people will come around to that.”

Marcel Barnd. Kelly Wang/980 CFPL

Also on the Green was Marcel Barnd, a trans man from Montreal.

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He told 980 CFPL he travels across Canada to attend Pride festivals to support the LGBTQ+ community.

He advised the public to not pay any attention to the protest.

“If you go after them, that’s what they want, so just ignore them because you’re going to get that wherever you go,” he said. “If they get you upset, just say ‘have a good day’ and move on.”

The event will run until 5 p.m. Saturday.

It will feature a drag storytime, over 50 vendors and musical performances.

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