The resistance to Drag Queen Story Time came to a Vancouver suburb on Jan. 14, when about two dozen protesters showed up to rally against an event at the Coquitlam Public Library.
The protesters were met by approximately 200 counter-protesters outside the library, as local drag queen Conni Smudge, the scheduled reader, arrived for the event, garnering cheers and fanfare. Smudge has created a persona in Vancouver, including a YouTube video series titled Storytime with Conni Smudge. One of the children’s books Smudge reads is called “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish.”
This was the second Drag Queen Story Time the Coquitlam Library has hosted; its first event was in August 2022. Library manager, marketing and communications, and Story Time spokesperson Sam Wink declined to talk to The Epoch Times when asked for comment.
Croy J. (who only wanted to give the first letter of his last name) came to the protest carrying a Gays Against Groomers flag, saying he felt an obligation to bring the U.S. movement to Canada. He believes Drag Queen Story Time events act like a gateway drug to explore sexuality and perversion for children, which he said his community doesn’t support.
“We now have sexualized materials for children in libraries, and now we’re putting drag queens, which are synonymous with burlesque, into libraries, reading books with children,” he said in an interview.
Croy J. cited a Drag The Kids To Pride Drag Show in Texas in June 2022 where children were giving money to performers in front of a neon sign saying, “It’s not going to lick itself,” saying it motivated him to become an activist against these types of events.
“Where do we draw the line?” he asked. “I would be more than happy to pack up and go home if any of these people could tell me where the line between Drag Queen Story and pedophilia is. Because while this may not be directly pedophilia, it is the pathway on the road to there, and people don’t realize it because we’ve turned the gay ideology into a cult.”
Drag Queen Story Time supporter Darryl Flasch disagrees. Describing himself as “gay” and “Catholic,” Flasch said exposing children to drag queens helps them embrace diversity and differences without growing up with anxiety. And people who mix their religious views with the innocence of reading stories have missed the mark.
“This has nothing to do with sexuality. There’s nothing to do with sexuality because lots of straight men do this, so we have to get our priorities straight,” he told The Epoch Times.
“The issue here is we demonize sex, right? We put it in a way and not talk about it. If you bring it out and talk about it, and normalize it, and don’t give stupid names to body parts, this will be an area that crosses that bridge a little bit. Children’s brains function better when they are put in environments that spark their creativity.”
Toronto neuroscientist Debra Soh, who specializes in gender and sexual identity and is the author of “The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society,” believes children should be protected from exposure to sexual themes and concepts.
“I think it’s good to encourage children to be accepting of others and to be open-minded,” Soh said in an email to The Epoch Times.
“At the same time, the fact that these types of events are being so heavily pushed in education and at so-called family-friendly events is concerning to me because they tend to be accompanied by a shaming of parents who question it or who may not want their children exposed to it.”
That bespeaks of “the ideological and political nature of these events,” she said, many of which are “sexually inappropriate in nature.”
However, parents and others who share her philosophy are often labelled as hateful and transphobic, she said, and many are shamed into silence when they should be expressing their concerns.
Soh said it’s a good thing that parents who oppose Drag Queen Story Time and who are concerned about inappropriate content in school libraries are attending school board meetings and speaking up to draw attention to the issue, because it will help bring about change.
“That’s really the only way that any change will be made, especially considering that the status quo right now is in favour of these types of events and these materials being readily available,” she said.
A similar protest occurred in November 2022 when a Story Telling With Drag Queens event was held in Vancouver’s Kitsilano Neighbourhood House, a non-profit charity “dedicated to providing an opportunity for everybody in our community to get together and be engaged,” according to its website. Of particular concern to the protesters was the background of one of the drag queens reading to children and the imagery associated with the performer’s profile.
The Epoch Times reached out to Conni Smudge for comment but did not receive a reply.