Supporters outnumber detractors outside Winnipeg drag queen story hour event | Whuff News

A group of nearly 200 counter-protesters stood outside a Winnipeg coffee shop Saturday morning as a drag queen story hour took place inside — an event attended by about 40 protesters and police. , when the site manager received threatening messages.

The protesters “don’t know what they’re complaining about,” said Katrina Tessier, owner of Scout Coffee and Tea.

He said three local drag queens approached him to host a Halloween-themed drag story hour event for children at his place on Rothesay Street, northeast of Winnipeg.

While the Scout has hosted many historical events in the past, none have involved drag queens, Tessier said.

“We thought it was a really cool thing to do,” he told the CBC on Saturday.

But he began receiving phone calls, emails and messages on social media criticizing the incident, Tessier said. Some of them were threatening messages from people who said they expected the store to burn down during the drag, and to punch Tessier in the face.

“If you care so much about children, why would you want to… [those violent things] Does it happen in a space with children?” asked Tessier.

Police were notified of the threat and were on the scene at the time of the incident, he said.

Protesters are showing up across the street from the coffee shop. (Anne-Louise Michel/Radio-Canada)

Family-friendly festivals in Canada have been the target of hate speech and threats in recent years, prompting a number of investigations. police officers and renewed concerns about the safety of the 2SLGBTQ community.

Those who protested Saturday’s event in Winnipeg said they believe children should not be exposed to drag shows.

“I don’t care what they do when they’re 18, but kids don’t have a chance in an adult world,” said Janice Smaha, who held up a sign that read, “Just the two sexes, stay away from our children. .”

“I don’t believe this is acceptable to any child. It should be a crime, you understand? It’s not acceptable, it’s against the law.”

After learning about the planned protest, Alex Krosney organized a “welcoming committee” to make the participants feel safe during the Saturday hours. That group clearly outnumbered the protesters outside of Saturday’s event.

A ‘welcome committee’ was set up outside the event to make attendees feel safe, said organizer Alex Krosney. (Anne-Louise Michel/Radio-Canada)

Krosney had a simple message for those who protested: stay home.

“If drag queen time isn’t for you, don’t come,” she said.

Opponents “choose to shut down and hate,” he said, “instead of trying to open their minds and support and love.”

“This is not the experience we want for people who come to this event.”

Krosney said she organized her group to support children participating in story hour.

“Queer people don’t look special as adults,” she said. “Some of the kids here today might not like it.”

‘They are not their children’

Shane Lawson brought his two young children to the event, which he called a show of support.

As a gay man, he said he wanted them to feel like they were part of his community.

“We’re not living in the dark ages anymore… They’re going to show up either way,” Lawson told the CBC.

A smiling man is standing and hugging two smiling little children.
Shane Lawson brought his two children during the drag show. He says that as a gay father, he wants his children to feel like they are part of his community. (Kevin Nepitabo/CBC)

At the end of the day, he said that those who oppose the drag queen story hour are spreading the wrong message.

“These are not their children, it was not their choice,” he said. “They’re promoting hate, and that’s okay.”

The coffee shop allowed ticket holders into the event, and all 50 tickets were sold, Tessier said.

People ordered to take out were asked to wait at the door, but Tessier felt there was no need for security in the first place.

He said that he is trying to educate the critics of the drag queen news hour about the real things that are happening in the events.

“They see women in drag and they automatically think it’s going to be a club show,” he said. “You have to know that these players can perform in different situations.”

One of the drag queens who participated in the story of the time, Rose Mortel, said that she received death threats and threats of physical violence, so she felt happy that the event was successful and be quiet.

“It’s nice to see that the support on our side is big and the other side is a bit smaller,” he said on Saturday.

Drag queen Rose Mortel and other queens read children’s books about sharing, pride, dress up and a book about Dolly Parton at the Scout Coffee and Tea on Saturday. (Dwayne Larson Photography)

In the event, “We read a book about clothing, we read a book about sharing, we read a book about pride, we read a book about to Dolly Parton it’s a children’s story — that’s what it’s all about,” Mortel said.

Tessier is pleased that Krosney’s group is organized so that participants feel safe at the event.

“I want to take those people to take this opportunity, when the families come, they don’t feel that the protesters are in control.”

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In Winnipeg’s North Kildonan neighborhood, hundreds from the community and their friends came to greet the children and drag queens as they made their way to their story. history They read books to children about Halloween, dress up, share and celebrate at a Scout Coffee and Tea Saturday.

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