Supporters vastly outnumber protesters as Drag Storytime returns

Event sees groundswell of community affirmation

Throngs of allies armed with messages of support and cheers of approval converged outside Kelowna's downtown library branch in a display of absolute affirmation as Drag Storytime returned.

The mass of defenders arrived en masse Saturday on word that protesters planned to picket the popular children’s event.

Dissidents did attend, but the maybe dozen strong crowd struggled to convey their message as the audience routinely drowned out the hecklers.

Several members of the Kelowna RCMP kept the crowds at bay, softly intervening if any conversation got a little too heated.

Though there were no physical altercations at the event, officers confirmed with Kelowna10 that a pair of knuckledusters were seized from one of the protestors. The protestor was carrying the weapon in a side pouch of his backpack, and willingly turned them over to authorities when asked.

Members of the LGBTQ2S+ community were overjoyed with the amount of support they received from the city.

“In seeing that the community is here for us, in seeing that the community doesn’t see us as unreasonable, but rather sees the protestors as unreasonable,” supporter Jade Walters explained. “I know for me personally; I just feel a bit safer walking around on the street.”

The jovial mass shared stories and made conversation, and at one point handed out coffee and other snacks to those in attendance.

“Today just helped me realize that there are lots and lots of people in this community that want to be here for queer people and make sure that we’re protected and safe,” supporter Ilan Pelmer said. “Which is really, really lovely.”

Protestors slowly trickled away after just over an hour of picketing, until it was only supporters who remained even after the event was long over.

Okanagan Regional Library CEO Danielle Hubbard hopes the public facility can continue to host these events and showcase Kelowna’s diverse community.

“My hope and the hope of the library is that it will show examples for the next generation of the great diversity of ways that you can be as a person in the world,” she explained. “I really want us as a library to support a society where all of those things are accepted.”

A similar event held in 2019 led to some former library officials being sent for sensitivity training after making derogatory comments.

Published 2023-01-28 by Robin Liva

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