A drag queen has spoken out after a Kelowna woman started an online petition against the return of Drag Story Time at the Okanagan Regional Library, downtown Kelowna.
The petition calls on Kelowna’s mayor and council to stop supporting or funding these types of events.
At Story Time’s last show, in 2019, protesters gathered outside the Okanagan Regional Library to denounce the exposure of children to drag performers.
“Drag Queen Events/Adult Entertainment is not appropriate for young children regardless of the claim to be age appropriate. Drag Queens and Strippers are not appropriate role models for young children who tend to idolize any live entertainer that they meet,” said Laurie Baird, the organizer of the petition on Change.org that was started on Jan. 5.
Freida Whales, drag queen and activist, spoke to Capital News about the controversy surrounding their upcoming performance.
“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.
“I welcome all to attend the story time and see that it is an innocent and special event for children, and an opportunity to learn a little bit more about themselves and the world around them along the way.”
A counter-protest has been now been organized, which calls for the continuation of family-focused drag Story Time events.
Kelowna has had residents speak out on all-ages drag shows in the past.
A group of protesters showed up on Dec. 7 outside DunnEnzies on Lakeshore Road to protest the all-ages drag show taking place where there were children in attendance.
Baird’s petition has gathered more than 2000 signatures as of Jan. 16.