A drag storytime event at Eltham Library in Melbourne, Australia, was moved online after the organisers received serious threats of violence by far-right protestors. Dean Arcuri, also known by his drag name Frock Hudson, shared that five similar events he was supposed to perform at on the same day were cancelled.
Recently having attracted the attention of alt-right groups, drag story-time events, which are usually supposed to promote diversity, inclusion and reading among children, are being targeted all over the world, with protestors claiming to be concerned about the children’s well-being.
The decision to move the event online was made after staff from Eltham Library and the organisers of the drag storytime event met with the police. After the decision was announced, Arcuri commented by saying: “They have all said, ‘This is getting really scary, sorry’. It’s a shame, especially because I don’t think it’s a true reflection of the society we’re in. I don’t think it’s a large portion of people that feel this way. I think it’s very targeted.”
“The current climate of hate towards the trans community and drag performers, through rising misinformation and harassment, is all too familiar to many of us,” he said. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with what we’re doing, which is put on an event that lets people feel seen, feel valid, and it’s just colourful and fun. Kids light up when they see the colour of a drag performer, when they see the sequins and the silliness.”
The Drag Storytime scheduled for Eltham Library on IDAHOBIT day where @FrockHudson was performing has been moved to zoom because of security concerns.
Another event at a school in Mornington has been canned – making it the 10th queer event in six months.
— Cait Kelly (@cait__kelly) May 15, 2023
A group of LGBTQ+ advocates known as Rainbow Community Angels announced that they would gather at the library on the day the drag storytime event is going to be held, despite it having been moved online.
The Angels are trained in supporting councils, libraries and cafes with hosting queer events and assist in things like communication or shielding attendees from protestors. The group was created in 1998 after Matthew Shepard, a young gay man, was murdered and his classmates shielded the attendees of his funeral against anti-gay protestors.
“We will not be cancelled no matter what. We need lots of us to stand up strong together for our trans and gender diverse young people, our kids in rainbow families, everyone in the LGBTIQA+ communities that we love and care for,” the group said.
Support request up!https://t.co/zsf7eNJcvz
Please email Eltham Library staff and let them know how fucking amazing they are for not caving to the homophobic hate being thown at them!
If your company says it stands against hate, make a statement supporting Eltham library!
— Rohan Irvine (@RohanIrvine) May 15, 2023
This news follows a string of cancellations for similar events across the state, including a singalong at Harthone Library, a drag queen story time at Oakleigh Library, and some events at regional councils.
Just like in the United Kingdom or the United States, events in Australia are mainly being cancelled due to concerns that the safety of the participants and organizers could not be guaranteed. Similarly in Ireland, a drag show due to take place in Carlow last week was cancelled after the organisers received threats and complaints.
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