Calgary library drag event interrupted, sparks continued concerns

Another drag event was interrupted last Saturday at the Calgary Public Library, which has left some concerned about how demonstrations could escalate in the future.

By Silvia Naranjo and Alejandro Melgar

A Calgary Public Library drag event was interrupted Saturday during the storytime program “Reading with Royalty,” which has concerned some about how demonstrations could escalate in the future.

Calgary police say they were called to the Seton Library in the southeast just after 11 a.m.

A video posted on Reddit shows the moment when the protestors were removed, along with an argument with library staff members.

People say a pastor was trying to break it up and note that he was wearing a bodycam and filming the kids.

Pastor Derek Reimer of Calgary, Canada is physically thrown out of an all ages drag queen story hour being hosted by Calgary library
by u/AffectionateBobcat76 in PublicFreakout

Pam Rocker, an activist, speaker, and director of Affirming Connection in Calgary, says it’s important to allow free individual expression in the city.

“In a civilized society such as Canada, we should be ok to say, ‘This is who I am. That is who you are, and we are each unique in our own ways of being.’ And we should celebrate that and not be afraid of it,” Rocker said.

“These events are about respect. They’re about seeing people and allowing people to be seen for who they are.”

Dr. Kristopher Wells, a professor for the public understanding of sexual and general minority youth at MacEwan university, says these kinds of events have been happening in Alberta for over ten years without incident,

However, lately, they have seen increased protests and hateful demonstrations that could eventually become confrontational.

“It’s very concerning,” Wells said.

“The whole idea behind this is to try to silence 2LGTBQ+ communities, to perpetuate updated and harmful stereotypes and to promote discrimination and prejudice.”

Calgary Major Jyoti Gondek took on Twitter to say she wants stronger bylaws to stop what she sees as hate speech, as there have been several incidents in the city of events interrupted by protests.

In her thread, she says existing street harassment “bylaws/legislation are not strong enough to charge demonstrators who spread vile lies and hatred in public.”

“Asking me to be patient and saying ‘we got this,” didn’t work. We have performers being targeted for weeks, and now vitriol in front of children at the library,” Gondeks said in a tweet thread.

“This is hate. This kind of hate we rallied against for so long. It’s back, and it’s worse.”

Gondek says action must be taken and adds she will share more about a “weakness of our existing bylaws and legislation.”

“It starts with me. I hold the greatest responsibility for this city to be a place of inclusion,” her tweet reads.

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In a statement, the Calgary Public Library says it is proud to host a “diverse range of programs” that bring communities together through reading.

We regret that a storytime event for families was disrupted, and we are reviewing the incident internally to identify opportunities to learn. Public libraries should always be a safe space for everyone,” the statement reads.

Both Rocker and Wells say more needs to be done, not only by authorities but by the community itself.

“When you hear that there is an event happening, go out and show your support, I think that speaks way more volumes than maybe a bylaw ever could,” Rocker said.

“2LGBTQ+ people don’t appear just as adults. They are children. They know their identities. They are looking for support. They are trying to build community, and being able to attend these events is very important,” Wells said.

“They should have the right to do that in a safe and discriminatory-free environment.”

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