A drag storytime event planned for the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown has been postponed after it was the goal of online attacks.
Trey Yeo, a drag performer and producer who performs under the persona of Treyla Parktrash, was set to read a kid’s book to families on the Kings Playhouse in March.
He says the aim of the event was to advertise inclusivity and acceptance in a supportive atmosphere for youths.
“I used to be going to decorate like a Disney princess, we were going to read just a few books, [and] in between the books, we were going to have just a few activities, like colouring — just showing kids that they’ll have a very good time but in addition be themselves, be authentic.”
The plan was to have a performer read a kid’s book, A Day within the Lifetime of Marlon Bundo, a couple of romance between two rabbits of the identical gender.
“It’s a extremely sweet story,” said Catherine O’Brien, interim executive director on the King’s Playhouse. “[It’s about] two bunnies in love. I mean, what are you able to not love about that?”
The storytime has not been cancelled entirely, the theatre said in a Facebook post: “We’re thrilled to be working with the Provincial Library to plan a latest date for this event, and we sit up for continuing our inclusive programming for Islanders.”
Among the backlash on social media featured expletives and anti-LGBTQ slurs. Other posts fixated on the graphic for the event, which stated it was only for kids under 10.
O’Brien said that graphic might have been worded higher.
“It wasn’t meant that folks cannot be there with the children … I must have perhaps made it just that it was for families,” she said.
“We were the age level that might really be engrossed by this book that we had chosen … Children over the age of 10 just might find it somewhat bit young for them, that was it.”
O’Brien said the playhouse has hosted drag events previously with little backlash. But after the negative comments and hateful messages began to spread, they decided to postpone the event “out of an abundance of caution.”
“It has turn into quite aggressive online and our drag queen performer has also been personally harassed,” she said.
“We still really consider it’s a very important thing to do. We would like to do it.”
Events have attracted protests
Drag storytime events have turn into popular at libraries and community centres across Canada, as a method to start conversations with families and youngsters.
“It’s an important method to entertain and likewise help families understand gender diversity,” said O’Brien.
But because the events have grown in popularity, protests have also taken place across the country — a trend that’s “really concerning” to Scott Alan, men’s sexual health program coordinator with Charlottetown-based PEERS Alliance.
“I feel it does a number of damage to the community as a complete,” he said.
“This kind of harassment is unnecessary and the sort of programming that is made for the youth is true, and it’s good for them at the tip of the day.”
Alan said there are mental health supports available for performers and community members facing harassment, including Our Landing Place, which offers fully funded mental health services to the LGBTQ2IA+ community on P.E.I.
“We’re all here to assist these individuals through these situations and offer them support that they need,” he said.
The show must go on
Meanwhile, Yeo said he’s received support for past events and performances on the Island, and can carry on with other upcoming shows.
“I’m working very hard to bring an inclusive environment here on P.E.I. for individuals who don’t fit into the norm around here,” he said.
“I’m still going to go, if not harder now, to be present here on P.E.I., especially as a queer person, as a drag entertainer.”
Yeo has made his social media accounts private but said he’s been doing his best to not let the hate get to him.
“The entire point of those events are to indicate those that the 2SLGBTQ+ community should not evil and that to demonize this group just isn’t the correct thing to be doing,” he said.
“We as individuals only need to encourage everyone, to live their authentic life and to simply, you understand, we just need to spread joy and love. That is all it’s.”