Cardiff drag queens story event greeted by rival protests

- BBC News

Cardiff drag queens story event greeted by rival protests

A childrens story hour run by a drag queen in Cardiff was targeted by protesters claiming it was "sexualising their children".

The Drag Queen Story Hour Tour arrived in Wales this week with the final event being held in Cardiff Central Library.

Story-teller Sab Samuel said it provided a "positive experience" and said there was no sexual content.

Police formed a line between protesters and counter-protesters outside but the event passed off peacefully.

There were about 15 protesters in attendance with many more in support of the event, wearing clothes adorned with the rainbow flag

Protesters targeted the library entrance on Friday with placards and banners before the event, claiming it was inappropriate for children.

Sab, whose drag character is Aida H Dee, says the intention was to provide a positive experience about queer culture and providing a positive role model for people to look up.

He said the shows included no sexual language nor were children exposed to sexual situations.

Sab moved to Cardiff in 2019 with the idea of capitalising on the flourishing LGBTQ community to begin the Drag Queen Story Hour.

He said: "I came to Cardiff to join, what I know is a large LGBTQ community and large Drag Queen community. I dont think Drag Queen Story Hour would have thrived as it has without the support Wales gives with its culture and community.

"It makes me feel depressed that these hateful people exist in dark corners of every country. These people do exist and they inspire me to keep going and to write more stories. This is the exact reason I do what I do."

The majority of the events in Wales have sold out and the ambition is to start a series of drag story hours across the city, following the end of the Covid pandemic.

"I would like to hope that Drag Queen Story Hour is the light at the end of the tunnel and to say that these types of events are going to be happening much more often," said Sab.

"The plan is for there to be a summer tour every year. The tour will concentrate on different parts of the country and we do plan to do a Wales-only tour at some point in the future."

Luana Beynon attended the event with her daughter.

It was her first experience of a drag queen story event and she said it was hugely enjoyable.

She said: "The energy that Aida had during the story hour was brilliant. It was great fun for both adults and children. I havent been to a drag story hour before, but Ill definitely be going again in the future. Im going to need to work on my storytelling after watching Aida! She was fantastic."

Parents were greeted by protesters before and after the event, although Luana says there was not any cohesion between their message and the event itself.

"I was surprised there were protesters but glad to see majority of people gathered were pro the event," she said.

"It was tailored towards children throughout so I didnt really understand their message. Its no different to the pantomime so I think these people need to experience the event before judging it."

There have been a small number of protesters at similar events in the UK during the summer tour, which BBC Monitoring said has been linked to far-right groups or demonstrators who have switched from anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests to evidence-free claims that the events are being hosted by "paedophiles" and "child groomers".

Councillors in Cardiff have received 143 letters of complaints about the drag queen story time.

South Wales Police were in attendance wearing body cameras and will assess whether any action has to be taken at a later date.

Ch Insp Chris Peters, from South Wales Police, said: "Officers have been present outside libraries across the Vale of Glamorgan this week, and Cardiff Central Library today, to facilitate peaceful protest and minimise disruption to the wider community.

"On Wednesday, a 44-year-old man from Gabalfa, was arrested outside Cowbridge Library and received a penalty notice for disorder (PND) due to his behaviour.

"There have been no other arrests linked to the protests which have passed without incident."

Some verbal abuse was heard directed at the counter-protesters during the event.

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