Drag Queen Story Time will go ahead at Kelowna’s downtown library today despite some nasty blowback online, over the phone and in person.
“There’s definitely been some tension, and the library did consider cancelling it,” said Okanagan Regional Library marketing and communications manager Michal Utko. “But, in the end, the library knew it was important to support diversity and the LGBTQ2+ community.”
As such, Drag Queen Story Time with Miss Freida Whales will go ahead as scheduled today from 11 a.m. to noon at the main branch of the library in downtown Kelowna at 1380 Ellis St.
Two particularly offensive comments on the library’s Facebook page, where the event is being promoted, had to be taken down.
“They maybe didn’t go as far as being a hate crime, but they were certainly inappropriate and contained links to articles that contained false information,” said Utko. “We also had a couple of phone calls from people who said the library shouldn’t be hosting an event like this and a couple of people approached (head librarian) Christopher (Stephenson) and other staff expressing their opposition.”
The controversy also prompted a slew of positive comments praising the library.
Some praised the ORL for pushing the envelope and embracing diversity, inclusion and empathy.
The Drag Queen Story Time is billed as a free drop-in event for all ages on the library’s and Tourism Kelowna’s Facebook pages.
There will be stories, songs and crafts led by Kelowna-based queen Miss Freida Whales, who’s known as Tyson when not in drag.
In keeping with the whole flamboyant man-dressing-up-as-woman theme, participants are urged to come in costume and dress to impress.
Event promotion also positions the event as a “fun program that celebrates diversity and freedom of expression.”
The library doesn’t know exactly what stories Miss Freida Whales might tell or what songs she might sing.
The library isn’t into censorship, as long as the event sticks to the “for all ages” content it was promoted as.