A drag story time for children at the Kelowna Regional Library on Saturday resulted in duelling protests with hundreds of people outside the building. The majority of the crowd was in favour of the event, while a number of people were not.
"We're here to stop the grooming of children by the transgender agenda," said a protester in opposition to the event.
The Kelowna Pride Society put out a call for supporters in the face of a petition that circulated and planned protests opposing the event.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen a rising wave of different kinds of organizing against LGBTQ+ trans communities, we’ve seen organized campaigns against school boards, school material, different kinds of actors showing up at pride events," said Claire House of the Kelowna Pride Society.
"We thought now was a really important moment to come together and stand as a community against these different kinds of violence and intimidation that people in our community are experiencing.”
Drag performer Freida Whales was met with overwhelming cheers from the LGBTQ+ community and supporters as she made her way into the library.
“It was outstanding to see the huge crowd out there today for me. It was honestly hard not to cry as I walked in to make sure my makeup was still intact for the show, but it was an amazing get-together for our community,” said Whales, who read Ged Adamson's Bird Hugs to the children.
“All the stories I pick are about finding out what’s different about yourself and just loving and accepting that."
Kelowna Pride said it was incredible to see support from outside the LGBTQ+ community show up.
“I think what’s amazing here is that we’ve really seen the whole community come together in support of this," said House. "I think a lot of people have realized we are experiencing hate speech and different types of attacks on the community. It’s been incredible to see all the different groups and the whole community come together in support."
RCMP were on hand outside the library during the opposing rallies, ensuring things stayed peaceful, which they did.