'I can’t do much about the uninformed': Drag queen story time in Sarnia, Ont. met with protesters
The supporters outnumbered the protesters more than 20-to-one.
As drag queen Amanda Villa prepared to sing and read to children in Sarnia, a small group of protesters marched outside.
It wasn’t the same group who dressed in all black in November and approached the front doors of Book Keeper where the event was held. This time it was just a few people who didn’t “believe in what they were doing” and said “things are getting too liberal.”
Meanwhile, more than 100 supporters of the rally “All You Need is Love” spent time chasing them around the parking lot, and having peaceful discussions about acceptance and hate.
“I don't think I can do much about people that are living their lives uninformed and creating their own ideas of what this might be,” said Villa, a professional drag queen.
Drag queen Amanda Villa reads stories and sings songs to children at Book Keeper in Sarnia, Ont. on Jan. 28, 2023 (Brent Lale/CTV News London)
Villa added, “Something like this, though, can maybe help change the ways. I just think if people just get a little more informed and actually pay attention to what's happening at something like this, you know, it's clear that it's really just filled with love and a group of us getting together to read books to kids.”
While the supporters held signs that read “love wins,” “love over hate” and “pride over prejudice,” the protesters signs had much different messages.
Protestor’s signs read “stop grooming children” and “stop woke agenda indoctrination.”
“You can have your drag time shows for entertainment but when you go outside and go to bring children into your world I believe it is inappropriate,” said Marian Bunt, a protester who claimed she was not homophobic and not a radical.
She was asked by a supporter, “How reading books and singing songs to children was harmful?"
The "Rally For Love" in Sarnia, Ont. drew more than a hundred people, with many of them holding signs in support of inclusivity on Jan. 28, 2023. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)
“I think a child is a very precious commodity,” responded Bunt, a mother of four, and grandmother of four. “You have to admit in drag is not the norm, and I like normalcy where children are."
Bunt would actually surrender her sign, and go into the store to take in the show where Villa read books and sang children’s songs to a crowd gathered around.
However when leaving Bunt called the show “boring” and it didn’t change her mind.
Although there was no convincing the protesters, the focus remained on how many people showed up to show support and take in the event.
“We are gaining, gaining, gaining all the time in Sarnia and the city is not a lost cause as some people have thought,” said Julie Hillier-Vrolyk, manager of Book Keeper. “A lot of people who have moved away from Sarnia have messaged us and said, ‘If we had had this kind of support when we were here, we would never have moved away.’”
Among those supporting the rally was Adam Kilner, a Sarnia minister and member of Diversity Ed.
Drag queen Amanda Villa reads stories and sings songs to children at Book Keeper in Sarnia, Ont. on Jan. 28, 2023 (Brent Lale/CTV News London)
“I'm here with my fellow United Church ministers from around town to support and to show that there are churches in our community and religious organizations that also support the work that the Book Keeper and a number of our other organizations are doing around town,” said Kilner.
Sarnia police did make an appearance at the rally prior to the story time, but left shortly before protesters arrived.
The entire event lasted about two hours, and Villa described why she was so happy.
“The love we felt today for what it is we do to show a little inclusivity, a little diversity, and oh my goodness, just being a lot of fun and joyous and laughing,” said Villa. “We had a great time.”
Book Keeper plans on hosting the drag queen story time event monthly.
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