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Photos: Hundreds counter anti-Drag Queen Story Time protest in Coquitlam

Protesters were met by a sea of supporters while North Vancouver's Conni Smudge read to kids inside the public library.

A rainbow of supporters visibly outnumbered the handful of people protesting a Drag Queen Story Time session at the Coquitlam Public Library.

Conni Smudge came to the Tri-Cities all the way from the North Shore to the guest host the City Centre branch's second event of its kind in as many years.

The "Unstoppable" performer read books to dozens of kids between 10:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. today (Jan. 14) while rallies continued outside the library.

A large police presence was also on scene to monitor the situation and navigate traffic from Pinetree Way, which was blocked as a result of the events.

The protests seemed civil aside from several loud verbal exchanges. Supporters blasted music outside the library in hopes of "drowning out" trans- and homophobic slurs.

Protesters claimed that a drag queen or any other LGBTQ community member hosting a children's event is a form of child "grooming."

"There has been some nasty messages and threats made from ignorant people that believe that this will sexualize or psychologically damage children. This, without seeing what we do," Smudge said on social media prior to the story time event.

"Everyone has a place to belong anywhere you are. If you see someone who doesn't feel like they belong, include them."

Supporters said, inside, the library needed to expand its story-time space to three adjoining rooms due to its popularity and interest.

In addition to reading books, including Rawr! by Todd H. Doodler, children also sang songs with Smudge, who's widely known for her musical performances on the North Shore and across Metro Vancouver. 

She called for supporters to join her commute from Waterfront Station in Vancouver to Lincoln in Coquitlam, where she received several chants in support of her hosting duties at the library.

"I've never seen so many queer people gathered in Coquitlam before," said Nicola Spurling, local social justice advocate and founder of the Tri-Cities Pride and Queer Coquitlam community groups, in a social media post after the rally.

"Love wins again!"

"The. Best. Love wins …. Every. Single. Time," added Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson.

"Thanks again, Coquitlam Public Library, for a fabulous educational and entertaining drag queen story time here."

Several members of Tri-Cities education community attended the rally, including School District 43 (SD43) trustee Jennifer Blatherwick and Ken Christensen, president of the Coquitlam Teachers Association.

As of this publication, there's no word from Coquitlam RCMP of any extra-curricular activities — violent or otherwise — that resulted from the rallies.

Coquitlam was one of three sites across Canada hosting a drag event that was met with protesters and supporters, including Calgary, Alta., and Peterborough, Ont.

It's the latest drag queen story time in Metro Vancouver to endure backlash from protesters.