by Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on Thursday March 09 2023
A Drag Story Time scheduled for Saturday at the Nelson Public Library has been canceled after staff and storytellers received threats and online intimidation Nelson Pride said in a media release Thursday.
Nelson Pride (formally known as Kootenay Pride) said it stands with Nelson Public Library and understands the library was put in an impossible situation after receiving threats of violence against staff along Drag storytellers for an upcoming Drag Story Time.
“We recognize the rights of individuals to protest,” Chief Librarian Tracey Therrien said in a media release.
“When protests turn to threats and intimidation tactics aimed toward staff and storytellers, the safety of library patrons and the staff take precedence.”
Saturday's Drag Story Time isn’t the first event of its kind that had to be cancelled in BC.
In June of 2022, Victoria café event was cancelled after the owner hosting a family-friendly drag show said staff were overwhelmed with homophobic and transphobic phone calls.
“We are angry and saddened that a small minority of locals, fuelled by misinformation, chose to threaten individuals and an event where children and their caregivers were to be present,” Nelson Pride said.
“These behaviours are unacceptable, and we understand why the library chose to be so cautious and cancel the event.”
Nelson Pride said Drag Story Times are meant to be family friendly events that model inclusiveness, kindness and acceptance as well as promoting a love of reading.
“They are voluntary events for people who may identify as 2SLGBTQ+, people in same-sex caregiver(s) families, their allies, and interested members of the community,” Nelson Pride said.
Nelson Police said the department is aware of the situation and is working closely with library staff regarding the cancelled Drag Story Time.
“At this point, there have not been any explicit threats reported to us regarding Drag Story Time,” NPD Deputy Chief Constable Raj Saini said in an emailed statement.
“We continue to monitor the situation and are in constant contact with staff and the Nelson Public Library.”
The Nelson Public Library opens its doors to numerous programs and events each year as staff strives to make the space and services available to everyone.
Nelson Pride encourages local individuals and businesses to take a public stand on the rights of 2SLGBTQ+ people to feel safe in our communities.
“This is especially important in the current political climate where gender diverse and transgender people are being harassed, threatened and stripped of their rights worldwide,” Nelson Pride said.
Nelson Pride said the organization looks forward to partnering with the Nelson Public Library and the community at large for future events that promote respect, safety and love.