Drag storytime in Hamilton goes ahead as LGBTQ2S+ and allies outflank protesters


Published November 25, 2022 at 2:15 pm

The good in Hamilton outnumbered the bad yesterday, when the LGBTQ2S+ community, allies and anti-fascists kept protesters from ruining a Drag Storytime performance at a library.

The drag performer Hexe Noire was able to share the love of books and reading with young children on Thursday morning (Nov. 24) at the Terryberry branch of Hamilton Public Library on the Central Mountain. More than 100 allies, many holding the rainbow Pride flags, outflanked the protesters.

Just before the performance started, failed Hamilton public school board candidate Catherine Kronas, who ran her trustee race on an anti-woke platform and lost decisively, called attention to the performance through her Twitter account. But strength in numbers and belief in diversity won the day.

“I’m very happy to say there were about 100 of us and maybe 20 of them,” Stew Klazinga, a Hamilton social justice activist, said in a TikTok video. “As far as I know, everybody got home safe, so there were no issues there.”

That squared with other Hamilton media reports and accounts that were shared privately with inthehammer.

Such events, usually geared for children up to age 11, are hosted by drag queens who read children’s books, and are intended to promote diversity and intellectual curiosity. That would seem to jibe with 2013 study in Neurology showed that reading makes a person more empathetic and respectful of others throughout their life, and also benefits mental health.

The far right, though, often targets the events. Right-wing politicians, such as the Colorado congresswoman Rep. Lauren Boebert, have also tried to link the events to pedophilia byusing rhetoric that has potential to create harm to LGBTQ2S+ people.

The event in Hamilton came just four days after a mass shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo., where LGBTQ2S+ people and allies were targeted. A radicalized 22-year-old white man is accused of opening fire at Club Q, killing five people and physically injuring at least 19. A total of 25 people suffered injuries.

The defeated disruption in Hamilton, meantime, comes less than 3½ years after violent assaults at the 2019 Pride event in Gage Park. That ugliness was a reference point on Thursday, with one protector of Drag Storytime acknowledging that asserting one’s right to full humanity affects individuals’ mental health.

“To everyone who came out in support, I hope you were able to take time for self care & wind down from all that hate,” @LeaGrie wrote on Thursday.

‘This can’t be left to grow’

In June 2019, counter-protesters, including some with ties to white nationalism, attacked Pride attendees, who fought back in full view of Hamilton Police (HPS) officers. The city’s police services board subsequently ordered a third-party review into the police response that day. Ninety-two per cent of the 38 recommendations that came from the report have been fulfilled.

Hamilton lawyer Mohamad Bsat said the elected leadership of the city needs to take a strong stance against organized anti-LGBTQ2S+ groups in the city, even if they are relatively small in numbers. He tagged Mayor Andrea Horwath and Ward 8 Coun. John-Paul Danko in a Twitter thread.

“I’m calling on the councillors to take immediate steps — statements, solidarity marches, press conferences-to quash this rhetoric and behaviour,” Bsat wrote. “This can’t be left to grow.”

It is unlikely that the foregoing public fracas was precipitated by a single person.

It is also factual, though, that Kronas, who ran for the school board to “stop woke” and shared discredited, insufficiently reviewed articles about “the benefits of colonialism,” posted about the event shortly before it happened.

Kronas, who is a Burlington realtor, posted a “reminder” about the event at 8:34 a.m. on Thursday. In her post, she tagged a far-right homophobic disinformation Twitter account, and thanked Ottawa-based e-commerce firm Shopify Inc. for refusing to cut ties with it.

In the Oct. 24 election, Ward 15 trustee Graeme Noble was elected to Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, with Kronas finishing second. Noble received 53 per cent of the more than 5,600 votes cast and Kronas received 41.1 per cent, falling short by 676 votes.

Noble switched his candidacy to the ward after community concerns were raised about Kronas’s platform.

Local school board trustees in Ontario do not have any input into the education curriculum. That is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education.

(Photo: @leagrie.)

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