A call for “drag defenders” to attend the Open Hearts Rally for Drag Story Time has been announced by Advocacy Canada and Kelowna Pride.
At the Story Time on Jan 28, at 11 a.m., drag queen and performer Freida Whales will be reading stories about inclusivity and diversity to children.
The Open Hearts Rally was organized after the story time announcement began to stir up controversy in Kelowna.
“Come out and show love for Drag Story Time with Freida Whales and show your support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community at the downtown library,” writes the organizers of the rally on the Facebook event page.
The rally organizers say that they will be present to stand against “Anti-Trans and Anti-2SLGBTQIA+ hate.”
“Bring your love, flags, placards, and support to drown out the hate.”
An online petition calling for the defunding of the Drag Story Time has accumulated thousands of signatures. Whales has been subject to online hate and threats since the event was announced.
“Drag story time is intended as a fun program where a colourful character (myself) comes dressed up to read stories to children and families. It is about inclusivity and understanding, and the stories I plan on reading are based on just being yourself and the acceptance around that,” said Whales.
Kelowna Pride expects anti-Drag Story Time protesters to be at the event and asks anyone planning to attend to not engage and to maintain a peaceful rally.
Protesters attended the last Drag Story Time event, which was held in 2019.
In December 2022, protesters clashed with attendees at an all-ages drag show at DunnEnzies in Kelowna.
More information about the Open Hearts Rally is available on the Open Hearts Rally for Drag Story Time Facebook event page.