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WOMENS WORDS

A Drag Queen Story Hour Protest

Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) continues to attract protestors on its UK Summer 2022 tour. What is unusual, though, is that as well as those protesting because they feel drag is inappropriate for children, there are also counter-protestors. People who feel so strongly that drag queens should be allowed to read to children that they travel to events to make sure that they go ahead.


I went along to Glastonbury on 22nd August with a couple of friends to see for myself who these people are and to find out what their motivation is. Having read an account of the Crayford library protest where one anti-DQSH protester describes having been pursued by a pro-DQSH group and pushed in front of a moving vehicle, I’ll admit I went with a little trepidation, but I needn’t have worried. This is Somerset, after all.


Several small groups were standing around outside the library when we arrived, along with six police officers. We went into the library to see what was happening, and I overheard the receptionist being told that one of the police cars had been put up on bricks and had its wheels removed. It was clear the next couple of hours would be Quite Interesting.


We watched the families file into the library meeting room where the story would be heard and estimated about a dozen children and their parents. So that’s about £12.50 per child plus the cost of the 6 police officers who were there for at least the 2 hours we were there. It’s hard to see how this can be considered good value for money.


Outside, the two sides stood apart with very little interaction. Those wanting the event cancelled held up their placards whilst the antifas waved their flags. It seems that their flag for this occasion is the trans flag spliced diagonally with the black antifa flag.







There were 3 separate groups protesting against DQSH amounting to perhaps 30 people in total. A few Patriotic Alternative members, a small group of men who had travelled from Cornwall and South Wales whose concern was for the welfare of children, and the Glastonbury locals who feel that drag queens are not appropriate as entertainment for young children, and don’t want their taxes to be spent in this way. Despite the narrative around the anti-DQSH protestors being far right, homophobic, transphobic bigots, their message was focussed entirely on the sexualisation of children and gender ideology.


Those in support of DQSH were masked and dressed predominantly in “black bloc” giving them the appearance of paramilitaries. Although some were in their thirties or older, the three I spoke to were young twenty-somethings. I wanted to understand what their motivations were and why they felt the need to don masks in Somerset, and once we got past the “trans women are women/trans women are men” impasse, we had a very useful conversation.


We spoke about intersex people, and I refuted the usual claims of “it’s as common as red hair” which perhaps helped them to see that I had some knowledge of the issues. And I felt they were being honest with me. They said they masked up because they were concerned that the police “were not on their side” and that if their picture was taken, they would be “at risk”.


More interestingly, they both said they were bisexual and identified as “queer”, and I asked what they meant by that. It seems that the young man felt he doesn’t fit the mould of masculinity that society demands. He wasn’t sporty, felt more feminine at times, more masculine other times and so didn’t feel fully “a man”. The young woman had a similar story – she wasn’t a “girly girl”, didn’t want to wear pink frills and make-up, and felt uncomfortable to perform femininity in the way demanded of women.


This focus on extreme stereotypical behaviours is clearly making our young people seek some other label than man and woman. They both knew the reality of their physical sex but felt unable to live up to the perceived expectations.


While we were chatting, a trans identified man arrived with his Staffy in a state of quite some distress about DQSH. Trans people, he said, were having their lives turned upside down by groups using them to promote nonsense like drag queen story hour. It has nothing to do with trans people who are just trying to get on with their lives in their communities and jobs. He clearly had a point. This event had attracted maybe 80 people (including the children and their families) and 6 police officers, with feelings running high on both sides, all in the name of LGBT inclusivity. And yet he wanted nothing to do with it, and neither do any of the gay men or lesbians I have spoken to. It does rather beg the question as to why the antifas carry trans and progress pride flags.


A sole representative of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was there too so that the children would see something fun rather than just the “fascists” outside the library. He didn’t seem particularly keen to chat, although he was polite enough and when asked he was clear that he was a man in a dress, and not trans. I didn’t take his photo as that would have seemed rude.


A couple of local teenage girls turned up to express their frustration that the event was being protested at all, and we had a long conversation exploring why they felt that way. It was clear – particularly when one spoke of her “trans-boyfriend” – that these young women were fully aware of gender identity ideology, but from a very muddled “trans rights” perspective.


They were lovely girls, willing to engage and listen, and wanting to stand up for those they considered “oppressed”. We all agreed that gender is a rigid oppressive box, but they seemed convinced that gender critical people are the ones insisting on the boxes. They had absorbed a lot of misinformation; they believed that trans identified males only live until they are 35, that their suicide rate is incredibly high, and that none of this is the business of women. And, shockingly, they were dismissive – mocking even – of the idea of a wider society, a community, who need to find a way to live together.


I spoke to another antifa, a very angry young man who tried to needle and insult me. We did a couple of rounds of TWAW vs TWAM, but it seemed his heart wasn’t really in it and after a few minutes he calmed down and we had a chat. I don’t know if he really heard anything I said about it being impossible to change sex, but at least we parted on good terms. I suspect he has pinned so much on the idea that people really can change sex that none of it makes much sense if that isn’t true.


Before we left, the older antifas called the youngsters together – whether for a debrief or to consider next steps I couldn’t say. They were clearly directing and advising them, but I hope some of what we discussed sowed a few seeds of doubt in the younger minds.


As we walked away, I made eye-contact with the two young antifas I spoke to initially and they nodded and smiled to me. That on its own is a win. Now that the days of No Debate are over, we must make contact, break down the barriers and start talking.





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