Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Twitter
Following protests at several Drag Queen Story Hour tour events across the country, hundreds of activists formed a “protective ring” around Aida H Dee’s event at Oxfordshire County Library on Tuesday (23 August).
With pro-LGBTQ+ activists preventing anti-LGBTQ+ protesters from getting close to the library and disrupting the event taking place inside, Aida H Dee’s reading session was able to take place peacefully.
Oxfordshire Libraries have officially taken the TOP SPOT with the UK's MOST attended Drag Queen Story Hour in a library so far!! WOW! 🥰🎉🏳️🌈 Well done Oxfordshire County Council 🏳️🌈 @oxonlibraries @aidahdeedrag pic.twitter.com/FBRdga29sp— Drag Queen Story Hour UK® ️🏳️🌈 (@DragStoryHourUK) August 23, 2022
Tuesday’s event saw around 50 protesters gathering outside the venue, with some holding signs such as “stop sexualising our children” and “leave the kids alone”, they were kept separate from activists by the Thames Valley Police.
"Officers engaged with those who were in attendance and no arrests were made," Thames Valley Police said in a statement to the BBC.
Oxfordshire County Council said the library was closed to the general public for the event in Westgate, Oxford, and had “risk assessed and safeguarding measures” in place due to previous protests of these events nationally.
"To ensure the safety of the performer, and the young children attending, there will be limited access to the events for those with advance tickets, and libraries will be closed in advance of the events," the Council’s statement read.
Last month, during Aida H Dee’s reading session at Reading Library, two protesters disrupted the session while around 25 protested outside.
Aida H Dee
The BBC reports that the protests include a number of individuals from the Alpha Men Assemble, the group that believes they have the right to opt-out of laws they have not consented to, as well as members of the Independent Nationalist Network which includes former BNP and Patriotic Alternative members.
In Oxford, amongst the 300 supporters, Brad and Issy Riddy attended the reading with their 21-month-old son Cassius, they told the BBC: "They [the protesters] clearly haven't done any research or know what they're talking about or spoken to any trans or gay people.”
As well as Aida H Dee's Reading Library event, in Norfolk earlier this month Titania Trust's reading session was postponed after protesters gathered outside North Walsham Library.
"I was disappointed but if anything, this has fired me up!" said Ballard, who performs as Titania Trust.
"We don’t want to avoid these situations, if anything, we need to show this lot… that we can’t be bullied by these bigots," Ballard continued. "We can’t stop our activity, I know there were around 50 to 60 children who were going to attend, all ready to go. It’s dampened their summer holidays."
Drag Queen Story Hour is a free country-wide initiative in local libraries for a fun and interactive kids show that sees drag queens read to children.
The Attitude September/October issue is out now.