Two local Sydney councillors are hoping for statewide support for drag story time events after many events were cancelled over abuse and threats made earlier this year.
City of Sydney Deputy Lord Mayor Sylvie Ellsmore successfully put forward a motion for consideration at the upcoming 2023 Local Government NSW Annual Conference, which will be tabled at council next week.
The ‘Support for Drag Story Time Events in Local Government’ motion aims to have Local Government NSW support drag storytime events and other LGBTIQA+ community activities.
Ensuring the safety of the performers and attendees is a top priority within the motion, as well as making sure that “drag performers receive payment in full for events that are cancelled”.
Cr Ellsmore told news.com.au that this motion is on behalf of the community and local LGBTIQA+ activists.
“We put this motion to the City of Sydney Council at the request of the community and local LGBTIQA+ activists, who are concerned about the recent organised attacks on Drag Story Time events in other places, especially given recent incidents of hate speech in our area,” she said.
“Targeting our two key LGBTIQA+ pride areas of Oxford Street (Darlinghurst) and King Street (Newtown), we have recently seen organised protests against trans rights, anonymous letterbox drops targeting gender inclusion, and even incidents of physical violence.”
The motion was brought forward at Monday night’s council meeting and was passed unanimously.
Greens councillor Liz Atkins will be moving their own version of the motion through the Inner West Council and told news.com.au how important it was for local councils to support these events.
“It is absolutely vital that Councils across NSW do not cancel LGBTIQA+ events because of threats,” Cr Atkins said.
“Inner West Council has shown itself to be staunch in the face of threats to planned events such as its Trans and Gender Diverse Swim Events.
“It is even more important now to stand up to transphobes and homophobes, and to put in place measures to keep our community safe.”
‘Enough is enough’
After having her drag story time cancelled due to protesters and still facing harassment and online abuse, drag queen Sam T has said enough was enough.
“There needs to be something put in place to save these events, enough is enough,” she told news.com.au.
“I can deal with angry mothers and protesters but when the neo-Nazis got involved that’s when my life was in danger.
“Even though the event didn’t go ahead I was still having to look over my shoulder while living my everyday life.”
She continued: “As queer people we’ve had to fight this fight for years and years. The oppression, homophobia, transphobia and so on, and we will continue to fight with unconditional love. But it’s time for others to stand alongside us.”
A sentiment shared by Dean Arcuri, whose drag persona Frock Hudson had an event cancelled after far-right groups targeted the school where it was going to be held.
“I’ve received quite a lot of online harassment, emails of a really discolouring nature sent to me. I’ve had people come to the ticketed events and try to disrupt it,” he said.
“It’s created an environment of a lot of stress and anxiety for people who just want to come and support these events, which are just about being inclusive and reading stories to children.
“Unfortunately, people with their threats and harassment have made it [so] extra steps need to be taken so that we can allow [drag story time] to happen and protect everyone attending.”
Dolly Diamond, a drag performer currently performing at the Edinburgh Fringe and another victim of online abuse, told news.com.au that she hadn’t had any opposition over the story time in Edinburgh.
“There’s been no problem whatsoever. I did one last Saturday and one [earlier] this morning and there’s been no backlash,” she told news.com.au.
“Maybe it’s different when there’s an Edinburgh Fringe on but I am relishing in it.”