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Drag Storytime protest not deterring Sault allies


It's been a busy few days for organizers of a 'Drag Storytime' in Sault Ste. Marie after learning someone was planning to protest the event this weekend at one of the library branches.

"I got a message from some Sault Pride volunteers … sending me a screenshot of the post talking about protesting the story time and Sault Pride made their post about that," said organizer Ashley Aikens-McIntosh.

“This all happened Saturday night -- within 48 hours the amount of support has been overwhelming.”

The post comes from an individual who has connections to the Unity Centre, which also protested COVID-19 mandates and the vaccine.

Since the post, Aikens-McIntosh said she's been pleased to see the number of people stepping forward to help.

"Drag performers from other cities, I've had general members of the public, parents, members of the LGBTQ community, members of the ally community flooding my inbox with what can we do to support you," she said.

It's not their first performance at the library. They've performed at the Centennial branch before, so it's unclear to them why this time was any different.

Drag storytime started seven years ago and has since dramatically increased in their popularity. Aikens-McIntosh said the closest comparison she can think of is something similar to Mrs. Doubtfire.

It was a way for the 2SLGBTQ+ community to advocate inclusivity and acceptance.

Creators started it to provide diverse role models within the community.

"I've done some drag storytimes before, online during the pandemic and they never really got this big," said Rebekah Gwynn, another performer.

"The attendance was usually pretty low, there was never any negativity around it so it was only known in a few select spaces. But I got my drag start in Hamilton, where a lot of the queens have gotten similar reactions there. Someone had to postpone a drag brunch because someone brought a weapon."

"I got pretty nervous. My determination to attend never swayed," they continued.

"This just solidifies the reason why we have to do it … we're not teaching kids anything. We're not pushing ideologies. It doesn't surprise me but it does disappoint me that people could be against something like that."

The support has spread to all facets of the city including Sault Ste. Marie council, which passed a motion to support the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library's programming and the inclusion of drag storytime.

The motion, which was introduced by Coun. Angela Caputo, passed unanimously.

Sault Ste. Marie Public Library released a statement in support of the organizers and the Pride Community, writing, in part:


"Most arguments against Drag Storytimes contain baseless allegations and are born from ignorance about the topic. The best way to combat this is through education and by exposing the public to the variety of diverse peoples, cultures and values that make up our community. This is what a Drag Storytime is designed to do."

CEO Matthew MacDonald said these events are about diversity and inclusivity, two of the library's strongest values.

"This protest is being held by a group that purports to stand for freedom, but in fact is promoting intolerance, in contradiction to the very definition of freedom,” said Sault Pride, in the statement it issued on its Facebook page.

“Some of the performers involved and many attendees are members of our larger Sault Pride community and identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ or allies. We stand with them in the face of this display of hatred and intolerance and we draw from it the resolve to continue being the queer-positive, inclusive presence that Sault Pride has come to be in the 10 years we’ve been holding Pridefest in Sault Ste. Marie, while we remind ourselves that there is still so much more work to do."

CTV News also reached out to the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, which said it’s reaching out to all parties. Police are aware of the social media posts and said it will be monitoring the situation.

Organizers are planning to go ahead with the event.

While they say lots of progress has been made in combatting homophobia and transphobia, Aikens-McIntosh says there's always more work that can always be done. Top Stories

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