‘Drag Story Time,’ a storytelling event for children presented by “DIY drag collective” Glitter Hole, has been canceled by DLR Libraries after receiving homophobic backlash from the public.
The event, which aimed to offer “glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models,” for audiences aged between 3 and 7, was due to take place at Deansgrange Library on June 26th as part of a summer series. A flood of threatening homophobic comments, however, led to its cancellation.
In a statement released last night, DLR Libraries announced the cancellation of ‘Drag Story Time’: “This event was programmed as an age appropriate, family-friendly story time session. However, following a review in terms of age appropriateness, this event will not now go ahead at this time, and may be rescheduled as part of a future Book Festival lineup.”
This morning, Glitter Hole shared a statement on social media expressing their shock at the content of this announcement, which appears to condemn the event itself as inappropriate for children rather than focusing on its reception by the public.
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It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that our upcoming Drag Story Time event has been cancelled by @libraries.dlr We were contacted by DLR last month and asked to put on one of our drag storytelling performances to celebrate Pride and I wasn’t aware that it had been announced by them yet. Over the weekend we have been inundated with extremely violent homophobia from a frighteningly large group of bigots who believe that a few drag queens reading books to children amounts to child abuse. The library decided that the event was a safety risk, which we accepted given the scale and gravity of the vitriol that was being spewed on twitter. However, the statement issued by DLR last night cites “age appropriateness” as their reason for cancellation. The implication here is that the content of our drag shows for adults has deemed us inappropriate children’s storytellers. There is no mention in this statement of the safety concerns for the performers and audience of the event due to the ongoing abuse we’re receiving online. It seems like the most despicably archaic homophobia to me that DLR have labelled the queer people the risk in this scenario. The irony is that we were booked for Pride and yet after having hate speech directed at us all weekend, DLR have responded to that by deciding that we are incapable of providing an age appropriate family event. We have performed drag story time three times now and the response has always been entirely positive. We believe in the importance of this event and are determined to continue presenting it.
“We were contacted by DLR last month,” a spokesperson for Glitter Hole explains in the statement, “and asked to put on one of our drag storytelling performances to celebrate Pride and I wasn’t aware that it had been announced by them yet. Over the weekend we have been inundated with extremely violent homophobia from a frighteningly large group of bigots who believe that a few drag queens reading books to children amounts to child abuse.
“The library decided that the event was a safety risk, which we accepted given the scale and gravity of the vitriol that was being spewed on Twitter. However, the statement issued by DLR last night cites ‘age appropriateness’ as their reason for cancellation. The implication here is that the content of our drag shows for adults has deemed us inappropriate children’s storytellers.”
“DLR,” the statement goes on, “has labeled the queer people the risk in this scenario.”
Glitter Hole has performed ‘Drag Story Time’ three times, they point out, and always received a positive reception.
For anyone that's interested – this is what a Drag Storytime with Glitter Hole looks like. This is what they're so upset about. This is what they're determined that children shouldn't be 'subjected' to. It was fun & it was inclusive & dressing-up is not about sex. #FreeToBeMe pic.twitter.com/oYcfakZ9qS
— Gutter Bookshop (@gutterbookshop) April 15, 2019
DLR Libraries have responded this afternoon with a new statement, claiming that “the cancellation was due to our significant concern at the high level of degrading, inappropriate comments on social media about the performers and library staff.”
They add “DLR Libraries object to homophobia in all its forms and as per our social media guidelines, we reserve the right to remove content or comments that may be considered offensive, abusive or defamatory.
“Health and Safety is always at the forefront of our concerns. We would like to reassure the public that this event was age-appropriate and family-friendly.”
Managing Editor of GCN, Lisa Connell appeared on Today FM to discuss the cancellation.
Connell noted that “Drag is a very fun, creative, celebratory way to show kids that there’s lots of different ways to be who you are.”
Speaking on the debate about the “age-appropriateness” of the event, Connell commented: “Drag performers are incredibly astute to their audience so they are going to be presenting relevant material to three year olds. They’re not doing the same routine as they would do on a cabaret night, it’s reading a book.”
Listen back to the full discussion here.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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