Won't somebody actually think of the children?
Drag queen story hour is becoming a dangerous shitshow, by Rebekah Wershbale
Welcome to Lesbian Mum Story Hour! It’s such a pleasure to have you all here for today’s tale, thank you for coming! Are you all sitting comfortably? Have you got enough coffee? The children safely occupied elsewhere? Fantastic, let’s begin.
On Saturday, August 6th, I made the slightly mad decision to go alone and unaffiliated to Leeds Central Library to see for myself, firsthand, what on earth has happened to the protest culture surrounding Drag Queen Story Hour. At one point in the not too distant past, feminist groups all over the country were mobilising to protest DQSH on the grounds of child safeguarding issues, and the widely held, common-sense understanding that perhaps a man dressed as a roll of fruit pastilles with his knob quite clearly cling-filmed to his stomach might not be the kind of man you want hanging out with a bunch of children. The single-minded determination this dude and his accomplices have shown trying to make exactly this situation a reality has compounded this view.
Now, feminists love a bit of good safeguarding practice. It’s our jam. We love a bit of gay rights too. Gay rights are mint for us because–surprise!--we have quite a few lesbians in our ranks. On the surface, it looks as though we have common ground with both protest groups present, Patriotic Alternative and our old mates the TRA, right?
Wrong. Feminists decided to pull protests from the event and issue statements of intent, not only was violence against us a possibility– as has happened on a number of occasions - these two incidents just recent examples featuring men I knew I was likely to run into –but there had already been attempts to link us with Patriotic Alternative, despite being totally different demographics, having totally different modes of protest and diametrically opposed views on basically everything. In the end, we looked at the chaos the protests had become and thought, you know what? Think we’ll just ….sit this one out.
Because this is very much a public interest story, I decided to go along as an observer to have a chat with some people about why they were there, to film as much as I could and to try and get a feel for what’s in store for the culture wars. I went at some risk to myself as many of the Rainbow Mafia know me by sight and have gone after me before with dreadful accusations and personal attacks, and as as a movement they have no qualms about escalating to violence. I also look like a pretty obvious lezzer so I’m not going to be PA’s favourite flavour of person either. Possibly a foolhardy move on my part so I went with the tactic of visibility, filmed both groups openly and was not masked or disguised. I also, as many of you saw yesterday, fired a pre emptive shot with a public announcement that I was there and intended to write about it, lest I be accused of being a furtive right wing spy, or whatever I’m having pinned on me this week.
There’s the background, on to the protests!
There was a space between the protests happening on either side of the library entrance about 50ft wide, populated by industrious but passive lines of police, security and PCSOs. In the Rainbow Corner were the usual assortment of attendees but with a curious shift in representation. There had been a call out to form a protest group against PA, remember, not feminists, and this was reflected in interesting ways. Stand Up To Racism were there in respectable numbers, as were the Socialist Workers party. There was the usual smattering of young, enby looking girls with fascinating hair and even a coherent female spokeswoman which was extremely novel for their side. Antifa had a teensy weensy presence of 3 or 4 masked young dudes relegated to the furthest corner, out of sight of the street and so jammed next to the back of a billboard that they didn’t have enough space to wave their flag with any kind of flourish. Almost like it’s been realised that as a mechanism to win people over, it’s actually quite shit and off putting. But hang on! Patriotic Alternative are actual, straight up, full on dictionary definition fascists, and they’re mind bogglingly proud of it. You might think that going head to head with the real deal rather than menacing a load of mums and lesbians would be right up their avenue but apparently they’re not even worth getting out of bed for. Where’s the rest of them? Where’s the Poundshop Ninja Army? They were nowhere to be seen. Nary a Black Pamper in sight, making it hard not to speculate that they only arrive en masse when there are uppity feminists to contend with. The difference between this rally and the last Standing For Women event in Manchester was striking. This one was female-led and the boys took a back seat for the most part. It kind of gives me hope that once we’ve extricated ourselves from the T we’ve got some real fire to fight homophobia with, but I’m prone to wishful thinking and it’s my refusal to capitulate to trans ideology that’s gotten me ostracised from ‘my people’ in the first place.
On the other side, in the Red, White and Beige corner were Patriotic Alternative. Having read about them and watched some of their protest videos, I expected them to be a bit more lively than they actually were. While the ‘Drag is GOOD for kids!’ crowd was 200+ strong, PA had managed to muster 20-30 people tops, who all frankly resembled each other and put me in mind of a poorly funded FLDS UK chapter that’s struggling to get off the ground. While I appreciate that their very presence is symptomatic of a growing culture of intolerance and right wing backlash against gay rights, looking at this scowling, pasty lot whose main protest strategy seemed to be drawing attention to a pair of 15 year old boys (talking of grooming…) flipping people off, I didn’t feel like lesbians and gays have much to worry about from this particular group of people. They’re inconsequential, unappealing and quite simply, an odd extended family. The apparent leader was there dressed as what appeared to be an eccentric English explorer from the turn of the 20th century. Think what that unhinged hunter guy from the original Jumanji might look like in his down time. He mainly stood around sneering, apart from when he felt moved to raise the sparklingly witty clarion call of “Puffs OUT! Puffs OUT!” Truly inspirational.
There’s your basic scene setting. Rainbow Corner making a LOT of noise and PA occasionally shouting homophobic slurs that woud then result in an even bigger cavalcade of noise to drown them out. As they were few in number, way outpaced in enthusiasm and had a dead small megaphone, their message was neither well broadcast nor received, which can only be a good thing. Indeed, none of the people I spoke to knew who the hell they were or what their beef was. The TRAs had noise and stamina and as a long term activist I’ll hand it to them; they know how to put on a protest.
But it was a protest that should NOT have occurred around kids. Whatever sympathy or admiration I may have had evaporated immediately when it became clear, obviously, that this is part of their recruitment drive. The reign of trans is coming to an end and so of course they’re pulling out all the stops to get to the next generation and groom them into trans activism. They LOVE queering kids. Their mission critical at this protest wasn’t, as they stated, to protect lesbians, gays and racial minorities. I certainly didn’t feel protected when I crossed the picket line between them and the PA. One group that hates me for being a women’s rights campaigner that publicly challenges trans dogma, and another that hates me for being a lesbian. I suppose we’re getting off lightly compared to our gay brethren who they’d happily see castrated and sterilised - maybe they have more in common with trans activism than either of them realise.
The issue here is children. This is why all this is happening. So that Drag Queens can have unfettered access to children to normalise misogyny and hypersexualisation. Feminists, and most people outside the Gender Stasi are opposed to this. I spoke to a load of clueless passersby who had no idea what was happening at their usually quiet library who, upon being told about the issues at hand in the most conversationally digestible nutshell I could make it, overall agreed that yes, the nazis are the bad guys, but also that drag is not suitable for kids, and that a showdown between the far left and far right had absolutely no business taking place at an event explicitly aimed at children, with many children in attendance. Both sides look like utter dicks. The public are alarmed and frankly sick of the whole thing.
Gender overreach has been its downfall and so TRAs are clinging desperately to things like DQSH to try and keep their failing movement relevant by pretending it’s a gay rights issue. As a representative of the very first letter in the acronym I can say with absolute certainty that drag queens hanging out with kids does not protect or enhance my rights. On the contrary, it causes groups like the nasty, scummy PA to appear and try and take away the rights I and other members of the LGB community have. So, thanks for that, Drag Queen Story Hour.
The funny haired hive kept sending out drones to buzz about, distributing propaganda to the kids being taken to the library. These protests were of course very loud, and they were intimidating from both sides. I’m an adult, and I knew exactly what I was walking into but these poor kids had absolutely no fucking idea what was happening. They were visibly distressed and confused and the parents were just blithely ignoring their discomfort, which only gives horrid groups like PAmore ammunition for their “won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children!” campaign. I’m a mother myself, of a young daughter, and obviously I’d never take her to DQSH, but as a conscientious activist who has co ordinated and attended many protests, I’d never take her to one of those either. Not in a million years. Sure, she’s been on peaceful marches, and attended environmentalist events but protest is different. It’s potentially dangerous and inappropriate for children. Case closed. The fact that these 2 noisy, aggressive groups had coalesced to protest physically surrounding them doesn’t convince me that either of them are acting in the children’s best interests, and I’m glad that feminists stayed clear.
The TRA are recruiting and grooming kids. We know they start young with propaganda in schools and the likes of Mermaids benefitting from bake sales in nurseries and openly stating that kids as young as 2 need to be indoctrinated into gender ideology. They make no secret of it and DQSH is part of this agenda. It couldn’t have been clearer on Saturday. I also noted with some concern that the majority of kids there were little girls.
If you’re still with me this far, thanks for coming on this journey with me which I’ve tried to make light of even though the whole situation is incredibly worrying and suspicious.
Here’s where it gets even more so.
I’d walked through the picket line to stand at the top of the steps by the library entrance to get a better view of both groups of protestors and the parents bringing their kids in. Security was insanely tight for a kid’s story hour and the public were being turned away citing a ‘private event’ in the half hour or so leading up to the start time of 1.30. I spoke to a woman in a mobility scooter who’d been in the adjoining art gallery who had unbelievably had to argue with a security guard about whether she could use the accessible toilet, situated on the ground floor of the library. He initially refused but thankfully relented, and so understandably she was confused and upset by this. This is already way outside normal procedure for a public building but what appeared to happen next was gobsmackingly outside of remit.
At about 1.35pm people started exiting the library and an alarm was going off. I asked some of the people leaving and they and security confirmed it was a fire alarm and that everyone on the ground floor, staff included, had evacuated as per standard fire alarm practice. Worryingly, there were no kids in the group of evacuees which I didn’t understand because kids had been going in with their parents all afternoon. I asked around some more and spoke to a man who had been reading on the floor the show was due to be on - the top floor, as it turned out - who had asked security what the alarm was, they confirmed it was a fire alarm and then told him, incredibly, that it was “probably a false alarm and that I could leave if I felt safer” as they suspected a protestor had gained entry to the building, as had happened at previous events. He had left and was aghast that the decision had been taken to keep a large group of children on the top floor of a building while a fire alarm was going off, while an entire floor was evacuated and while staff and security “checked to see if it was a false alarm”.
The implications of this are staggering. Leeds City Council deliberately made the call to ignore fire safety protocol and evacuate one part of a building and not another, one containing babies and very small children. Whether a protestor had or hadn’t tripped it, surely safety should come first and foremost? As a parent I’m deeply horrified that evacuation measures weren’t taken and I hate to think that in the event of a fire, whether malicious or accidental, would they still confidently fanny around having a pride rave to the alarm for 10 minutes while they determined it was false, as Aida later tweeted?
In my view, and that of others I’ve spoken to about it, this is dangerous negligence and could result in a potentially very serious situation. Until Aida tweeted I’d assumed they must have left via another exit to minimise the kid’s exposure to the escalating protests but no, they stayed put while the library was checked and went ahead with the show. What other activity would have been given this unprecedented degree of rule bending determination to preserve it? I’m sure the Astronomer’s Society would have had their meeting evacuated, the local Ornithology group would have had to postpone their excitement about a particularly handsome kingfisher, and the people that hire monthly meeting rooms to discuss their favourite salads or rollercoasters or Roald Dahl short stories would have been expected to abide by basic fire safety rules and let themselves be escorted out. I cannot think of a single instance in which keeping a group of children on a top floor during a fire alarm is an appropriate course of action, but then I can’t imagine any other events being subject to a battle of protests on the doorstep either.
I’ve spoken to a librarian I know fairly well and she assured me that it’s standard practice to of course get everyone out of the building immediately. No shit, Sherlock all round. I’ve also written to Leeds Libraries to ask why that course of action was decided on and to see a copy of their fire safety regulations. No response has been forthcoming as yet, I will of course update as soon as I hear from them on what their official line is.
In the meantime, I’m just horrified at the whole mess. The content of the event itself, the TRA pushing harder than ever to indoctrinate kids under the veneer of homosexual equality, and now the tediously predictable alt-right that pop up like toxic weebles the second they think it’s cool to call gays paedos again. It’s the least satisfactory ‘we told you so!’ ever, and the sheer dishonesty about feminists being right-wing fascist homophobes is extraordinarily tiresome. We are clearly not the same.
If you’re thinking about taking your kids to Drag Queen Story Hour, I hope this has given you some insight and food for thought about why it might not be the wholesome, diamante studded inclusive activity you’ve been told it is. God knows Aida’s exploits have been documented enough already, and it doesn’t seem to be putting a small fraction of people off. If you’re still determined to attend then please know that you are not just complicit in willingly exposing your children to an insidious form of smoke and mirrors grooming and boundary erosion, but also perpetuating a culture in which gay people, and the left-wing at large are the bad guys. Trans activists have muddied the waters beyond any clarity, invited some incredibly unsavoury characters in, given them tiaras and decreed them the ruling caste. We’re at a tipping point and once more it’s down to the feminists to fix it. Which we will, because like I said, safeguarding and gay rights is our jam and we’re fucking good at what we do.
In the meantime, take your squabbles away from the sodding children.