Skip to content

Photos: Library drag story time disrupted at Coquitlam arts hub

Three police cars and four security officers, as well as supporters of the 2SLGBTQIA community, stood guard at Coquitlam's Evergreen Cultural Centre to welcome families and offer safe passage inside the building.

A drag story time inside Coquitlam’s Evergreen Cultural Centre this morning, March 28, started with songs and a book called The Adventures of Honey and Leon.

Outside, three police cars and four security officers — as well as supporters of the 2SLGBTQIA community — stood guard to welcome families and offer safe passage in.

Unlike the last drag story time hosted by the Coquitlam Public Library, only two protesters gathered outside the arts venue to oppose the event with Bizzy Body.

Last January, drag storyteller Conni Smudge was greeted at the City Centre branch with cheers and jeers from the crowd outside, with protesters saying the reading was a form of child "grooming." They also used a loud speaker to get their message out.

At Evergreen today, a protester named “Cheryl” yelled at supporters in the reception area, which was gated, after being denied entry, saying she had the right to hear the story time as the venue is city-owned; she was not accompanied by children.

She declined to speak to the Tri-City News about her concerns; however, a second protester, Renée Fennell of Surrey, a mother of five, said her aim was to educate parents about the dangers of “teaching [kids] about the queer lifestyle.”

She pointed to a paper from UBC researcher Dr. Harper Keenan and Lil Miss Hot Mess that states, in part, “drag pedagogy provides a performative approach to queer pedagogy that is not simply about LGBT lives, but living queerly.”

“This is a slippery path,” Fennell concluded. “It’s not OK. If you have a gay child, you want them stabilized, not using the they/them pronouns and confusing them.”

“Cheryl” videotaped the 2SLGBTQIA supporters who, in turn, turned their lenses on her as she focused her comments on the dozen or so families walking in.

“This is leading down the path of degradation,” she warned them while waving a sign that read “There’s No Such Thing As A Child Friendly Drag Show,” on one side.

She also spewed racist comments and mocked two men for wearing masks.

Members of the Tri-City Pride Society were present. Local social justice advocate Nicola Spurling also interviewed the protesters and library reps by video about the spring break event.

The disruption comes a week after Thunder Bay Public Library nixed its drag story time after receiving bomb threats. As well, on March 9, the Nelson Public Library postponed its drag story time event scheduled for March 11 over safety concerns.

Evergreen spokesperson Jessica Fowlis, who is on the society executive, told the Tri-City News that the facility's second annual Pride party will take place on July 20, 2024, highlighting inclusionary programs by the city and its cultural partners. In the evening, Evergreen will also host a Pride show in the Studio Theatre.