Rival activists hold demos as drag queen reads stories to children

Hundreds of rival protesters hold demos outside library as drag queen Auntie Titania reads stories to children: Supporters with transgender flags clash with far-right group Patriotic Alternative during latest ‘Story Hour’ event

  • Joseph Bollard, better known as Titania Trust, hosted storytime event in Norwich
  • The event attracted activists from the far right group called Patriotic Alternative
  • Hundreds of counter-protesters came to show their support for children’s event
  • Police were on hand to keep the peace between groups as the event went ahead 

Police were called in when hundreds of protesters clashed outside a library over a story time event hosted by a drag queen in Norwich.

Joseph Bollard, better known as ‘Auntie’ Titania Trust, had organised the children’s event at Norwich Millennium Library yesterday.

But the venue drew a large crowd of far-right protesters who oppose the idea of drag queens hosting children’s activities because they feel it is inappropriate.

The group, which calls itself ‘Patriotic Alternative’ and was made up of mostly men, were waving banners that bore slogans including ‘Let kids be kids’.

According to the Norwich Evening News, the far-right activists claimed they were there ‘protecting the minds’ of children. 

Several posters featured what appeared to be a family of four sheltering under an umbrella from the traditional rainbow flag, the Pride symbol for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Police were called in when hundreds of protesters clashed outside a library over a story time event hosted by a drag queen in Norwich. Pictured: Protesters outside the library in Norwich

Pictured: Protesters from both sides of the argument about whether the event should take place exchange views, separated by police officers outside the Forum library in Norwich

Joseph Bollard, aka Titania Trust, was able to host the event as planned on Wednesday

Just metres away, there were also counter-protesters who were there to support Titania Trust and the event.

Supporters waved Pride flags and placards that included slogans such as ‘You can’t sink Titania’ and ‘Drag out hate’. 

The groups were separated by police officers who kept the peace as the event went on as planned. 

Drag Queen Story Hour originally started in America to ‘inspire a love of reading, while teaching deeper lessons on diversity, self-love and an appreciation of others’.

UK organisers say it is about teaching inclusion and encouraging children to express their ‘creative’ and ‘fabulous’ sides.

Those calling for an end to Drag Queen Story Hour have called the queens  ‘groomer’, ‘paedophile’ and said they are ‘abusing children’ – all claims which have no factual basis.

A protester carrying a Transgender pride flag confronts Patriotic Alternative supporters who oppose the drag queen story hour outside the Forum Library in Norwich on Wednesday

Counter-protesters turned up in their droves to support the event hosted by Titania Trust

As with the majority of people who come into contact with children as part of their job, all the drag queens involved in the project have a full DBS check before they can work in libraries.

Titania Trust said the support meant a lot and thanked the counter-protesters for attending the event. 

Sharing a video on social media, Titania Trust said: ‘We’ve done it. Together as a team we got there! So we must thank everybody who’s been involved from the library service to the county council to the police and the stewards.

‘Everybody who was lovely at the forum as well and all of our wonderful supporters.

‘We’ve shown that Norfolk and Norwich is no place for hate and we will stand up against these nasty vile bullies.

‘So thank you everybody. Your love and support means so, so much to me. Onwards and upwards as they say.’ 

Protesters supporting Titania Trust reading to children hold up signs in support outside the Forum library. The library readings have been controversial with a number of events cancelled

Protesters supporting drag queen Titania Trust reading to children follow and wave goodbye to the supporters of Patriotic Alternative as they leave Forum Library in Norwich on August 17 

It came only days after an earlier event due to be hosted by Titania Trust had been cancelled at North Walsham Library on August 2 after protesters held a demonstration outside.

The county council decided to postpone another event due to be held on August 9 because of the activists opposing it being held at a publicly-funded library.

The group Norwich Pride condemned the protesters and called on the local council to do more to uphold the ‘Pride Pledge’, which was signed in 2020.

They said on social media: ‘We as a group call on councillor Dewsbury to act and to uphold the pledge that she signed.

‘The trustees of Norwich Pride will be writing a letter of solidarity to Joe, Titiana, New Stages and North Walsham Library.

In Bristol earlier this month, activists waved banners from the far-right Patriotic Alternative

‘Please do feel empowered to send solidarity or indeed complaints to the relevant people and places.’

It follows a spate of storytime events which have attracted protests by those who oppose the events being hosted by drag queens.

Earlier this month, a drag queen who took part in a reading event for children in Belfast said he had been the target of death threats but the ‘intimidation’ will not make him quit.

Matt Cavan, better known as Cherrie Ontop, said the backlash he has faced after taking part in a storytime event has given him ‘even more fire in [his] belly for events like these’.

He said he had to get the police involved after he was sent death threats and called a ‘paedophile’ online.

But Matt vowed to continue reading to children in drag, telling BelfastLive he wants Northern Ireland to be a better society where it is accepted that you can ‘wear a dress and still be a boy’, something he was ‘terrified’ to do as a child.

Drag performer Matt Cavan (pictured) was called a paedophile online and received death threats after reading stories to children in drag at an event in Belfast earlier this month

The 33-year-old was taking part in Drag Queen Story Hour UK, which is run by Sab Samuel, who performs as Aida H Dee, and has also been the subject of protests in recent weeks.

A group of protesters, organised by Parents Against Grooming, attended Sunday’s event and held banners which read: ‘Leave those kids alone’.

Similar scenes were pictured at libraries in Cornwall and Reading as the Drag Story Hour tour makes its way around the UK. 

Large contingents of counter-protesters have begun showing up to the libraries Aida visits, and the publicity is attracting families to sign up for the reading hours. 

Unlike in previous protests, when Sab Samuel, the children’s author and drag performer behind Aida H Dee, had to be escorted off-site for his own safety, protesters left Cornish libraries before he and families exited the building.

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