Arthur Spring Elections 2024
Miracle Territory April 20th
Severn Court (October-August)
Theatre Trent 2023/24
Arthur News School of Fish
Betty Baker addresses counter protesters following the Drag Time Story Time in front of the Peterborough Public Library. Photo: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay.

The Fence of Protection: Protestors Outnumbered for the Third Time by Supporters of Drag Story Time Event

Written by
David King
and
and
March 10, 2023
The Fence of Protection: Protestors Outnumbered for the Third Time by Supporters of Drag Story Time Event
Betty Baker addresses counter protesters following the Drag Time Story Time in front of the Peterborough Public Library. Photo: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay.

On the frigid Saturday morning of February 25th, Arthur went to the latest frontline in the Information War: counter-protestors prepared for the worst in front of the Peterborough Public Library before the library’s Drag Queen Story Time event, hosted by local Queen Betty Baker and an ensemble. Weeks of whisperings of outsider protestors’ attendance came to fruition shortly after 10 a.m, when Christian youth group Save Canada had organized a protest to once again disrupt families and children attending the event. They would not gather legitimately, however, without significant pushback as community supporters outnumbered the vocal opposition to the event. 

The numbers for counter-support went from 65 at the initial meeting time of 9:00 to 125 at its peak. Protestors, donning red “Save Canada” hats and singing “O Canada” over a megaphone, scattered around Aylmer and Simcoe, with some choosing to hold signs on the corner of the intersection to intimidate families walking to the front doors of the library.

This was the third time protestors had occupied the property around the Library since October. The last time far-right groups showed up to the Story Time event was back in January when they were similarly outnumbered. That day, approximately fifteen anti-drag protestors, including those from the Save Canada group and several stragglers, were met with joyful resistance from community members. 

Josh Alexander, a primary organizer in similar anti-drag protests around eastern Ontario was in attendance for the the protest on the 25th. Alexander was arrested weeks earlier for trespassing on his Renfrew school’s property for attempting to attend classes after he was suspended for a variety of transphobic aggressions that endangered students including telling his teacher that “male breast feeding was pedophilia,” as he would relate to Arthur

Josh Alexander and another representative of Save Canada being surrounded by counter-protesters and media on February 25th, 2023. Photo: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay.

Renfrew has been a hotbed for transphobia in the last six months, marked by anti-trans rallies and other related efforts such as a letter-writing campaign to area school boards to not permit the board to place litter boxes in bathrooms. This protest in particular is a visible manifestation of the right-wing reaction to “gender ideology” which was frequently discussed by protestors when approached by Arthur. Many would cite their main issue with the Drag Queen Story Time was their perception that drag is “not child-friendly” and “sexualizes children.”

Protestors started off their collective attempt to intimidate children and their families by waving around a flag with a Go-Pro camera attached to its end, signalling the intention to film or livestream families and their children going into the library. This raised some privacy and safety concerns from counter-protestors, who were more than vocal with protestors and would frequently engage with them verbally to distract them from harassing patrons of the library. 

Anti-Drag protesters surrounded by counter-protesters and media to protect families attending the Drag Queen Story Time on February 25th, 2023. Photo: Sebastian Johnston-Lindsay

Counter-protestors retaliated further, covering up the meagre Save Canada battalion with flags and cloth screens. Over the next two hours, there was a lot of back-and-forth between both camps, as observed by community organiser Collin Chepeka in a Twitter thread.

Chepeka has been documenting the postings and general activities of Save Canada organizers, their threads going as far as to feature a video of Josh Alexander with notorious German politician Christine Anderson, a member of Alternative for Germany, a far-right party that espouses German nationalist and anti-Islam ideology.

In spite of its publicity, the Drag Queen Story Time had its most successful numbers yet, with around 200 attendees joining Betty Baker for a friendship themed storytime featuring Babs Baker and her puppet Butch, joined by local musician Caitlin Currie. 

“Families were just as excited as ever for storytime.” Betty Baker told Arthur. “[We] read two books and sang two songs and it was a huge success.”

“It was amazing once again to see my community show up for this event, supporting inside and outside, and drowning out the hateful protests coming from far-right religion-based hate groups.” Baker said in an Instagram message after the event. 

“To be honest, I barely noticed protesters when I spoke to the counter-protesters outside. Honestly, my messaging has always been, if you don’t like it - don’t come, but now, it’s just so silly that they’re even coming to protest. This is the third time now, and the library and I have plans far into the future, so I won’t be going away any time soon!”

Baker has also been subjected to a slew of scrutiny from right-wing media and has subsequently spoken out about it in their Maclean’s feature, penned under their real name, Isaac Maker.

“It clicked then in my head that these protests weren’t about drag or storytime. They’re about power and control of knowledge,” they said in the feature.

Maker then goes on to declare that drag storytime is primarily about education and educating in an engaging, creative way that expressions of queerness, especially that of Maker’s, allows for.

“It’s reading books and singing songs and learning and teaching. So if we’re able to educate some people who don’t understand, then we’ve done something right.”

The Peterborough Public Library is hosting two more Drag Queen Story Times with Baker on March 18th and May 6th. There is no word yet as to a protest or its counter at the time of publication.

Arthur Spring Elections 2024
Miracle Territory April 20th
Severn Court (October-August)
Theatre Trent 2023/24
Arthur News School of Fish
Written By
Sponsored
Arthur Spring Elections 2024
Miracle Territory April 20th
Severn Court (October-August)
Theatre Trent 2023/24
Arthur News School of Fish

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Caption text

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

"Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system."
  • adfasdfa
  • asdfasdfasd
  • asfdasdf
  • asdfasdf