News (World)

Anti-LGBTQ+ bigots protested a non-existent drag event (& were still outnumbered)

Boise Pride, Kids Drag, child drag event, cancelled
Photo: Shutterstock

A small group of about 14 anti-LGBTQ+ protesters met outside of a London pub on Friday morning to protest a drag queen story event that wasn’t even happening. Even better, they were overwhelmed by nearly 150 pro-LGBTQ+ counterprotesters.

The protesters and counterprotesters met outside of The Great Exhibition pub in East Dulwich to clash over a “Drag Storytime for Under 5s,” an event for young children and families advertised on the pub’s website. CLIP, the group that had once organized the event, told the BBC they stopped holding the storytime in July 2022 due to safety concerns, and the pub simply hadn’t removed it from its calendar.

However, the event caught the attention of Turning Point UK (the British chapter of the rabidly anti-LGBTQ+ group). The group said that the bar hadn’t actually stopped holding the monthly drag event and only claimed to do so “to avoid a public boycott in response to the fact they have exposed children to adult performers,” Southwark News reported.

Turning Point UK posted an image on Twitter showing a whopping 14 people on their side. The group also brought speakers, including Lawrence Fox, an actor who compared LGBTQ+ people to Nazis and called gay men pedophiles.

Turning Point UK reportedly sent fliers to local residents to try and whip up support. However, local 75-year-old resident Annette Martin received a flyer and told Southwark News, “We’re not best pleased [by Turning Point UK’s efforts], and I think some of us are going to try and counter the protest. All my neighbors think it’s ridiculous.”

The bigots were outnumbered by counterprotesters from a group called Stand up to Racism South London.

The pro-LGBTQ+ protesters carried signs stating, “Don’t let the far right divide us: Defend LGBTQ+ communities” and “Smash fascism and racism by any means necessary.” Its members also chanted “Fascist scum off the streets!” and “Cheerio!” over a megaphone as the Turning Point protestors eventually walked away from the bar.

Police separated the two groups. Though police called the protest “largely peaceful,” officers arrested five people: three for public fighting, one for disturbing the public order, and one for assaulting an emergency worker and possessing a weapon.

The pub seemed unbothered by the protest.

It posted a March 3 Twitter message saying that the drag story events were “a huge success last year and brought great joy to parents and children alike.” The statement also said that the pub remains committed to offering events that are “magical, fun, inclusive, and appropriate,” and to provide “comfort, safety, and inclusivity at all times.”

In a Friday afternoon tweet directed at pro-LGBTQ+ protestors, the bar wrote, “Everyone at the Great Exhibition would like to thank you for all of the support, love, and solidarity shown for your local pub today. We have been overwhelmed. There will never be a place for discrimination or hatred of any kind here, and what we saw today was truly powerful, heartwarming, and inspiring.”

“Once again, thank you all for your unwavering support,” the pub added. “Now, who wants a beer?”

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