Organizers of Sarnia Speaks are calling on supporters to bring their ‘love army’ to the next instalment of the popular grassroots speaker series.
“We received word that a group from Toronto called ‘White Lives Matter’ is coming to protest our event next week,” organizer Danielle Catton said of the upcoming ‘Sarnia Speaks: Drag Storytime’ event happening Feb. 8.
“We’re going to be calling on the love army from last Saturday’s love rally to come and support again.”
She’s talking about the crowd of more than 100 who gathered at the Book Keeper last weekend to counter potential protesters ahead of Drag Story Time, armed with flags and support for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community (Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and additional sexual orientations and gender identities).
Sarnia Speaks, which promotes a safe, open dialogue, will feature three panelists — drag artists who participate in story time — along with the Book Keeper’s Susan Chamberlain, and moderator Crystal Fach, founder of Diversity Ed: Safer Spaces Canada.
“I think it’s going to be a great conversation,” said Catton, who founded the speaker series back in 2016. “Like with all of our Sarnia Speaks events, we think it’s going to be a room full of positive energy, education, storytelling – and really a place where people can come with open mind to learn more.”
Catton said she came up with the topic after protesters — a group of out-of-town men, dressed in black — showed up at the Sarnia book store during Drag Story Time last fall.
The events — during which drag performers read family-friendly books to kids at places like book stores and libraries — are growing in popularity and lauded for their efforts to encourage love and acceptance through inclusive storytelling.
Protesters argue the events are a form of “child grooming.”
“Personally, I have just found there is a lot of generalizations, fear mongering, and stuff that people have been saying when it comes to Drag Story Time,” Catton said. “And at Sarnia Speaks, we are all about education through storytelling.
“So we thought that this is a really great topic… to give a platform for those drag artists who are doing drag story time, a chance to share their truth and their story.”
Sarnia Speaks: Drag Storytime takes place Feb. 8 at the Sarnia Library Theatre, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information visit: https://fb.me/e/61VMy3AhZ