Police officers pose with drag queen amid protests at library story hour in Cornwall

Police officers pose with Aida H Dee who hosts Drag Queen Story Hour Credit: BPM Media

Police officers and council security staff turned out to more protests and counter-protests outside Cornish libraries (Aug 2) as drag queen Aida H Dee read stories to children in Bodmin.

The Drag Queen Story Hour tour of libraries across the country saw clashes between rival groups in Bristol and Reading last week.

Yesterday (2 August), supporters waved the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag while protesters in Bodmin held signs stating "We are against grooming", "Leave our kids alone", "Let kids be kids" and "We are not transphobes".

The protest was a quiet affair, with the protesters leaving before families and Aida H Dee exited the building.

Drag Queen Story Hour originally started in America to "inspire a love of reading, while teaching deeper lessons on diversity, self-love and an appreciation of others".

Protests and counter-protests have been gathering outside Cornwall libraries Credit: BPM Media

Mark Nelson, one of those protesting, said: "This is the seventh library protest I have attended. Upon arriving at Bodmin library today I was told by a security guard the area was 'out of bounds' and he wouldn't let me use the public car park or enter the building.

"At each of these protests we have been met by far left-wing counter protesters who insist on keeping their faces covered. When we try to open dialogue with these people we get called all sorts of names such as 'transphobic' and 'racist. This is simply not true.

"We are only concerned parents and grandparents who believe this is an adult conversation and has no place being pushed on to toddlers and young children."

A statement from the community who came out in support of the Drag Queen Story Hour across Cornwall over the last two days, said: "Cornwall has been out in force to support Drag Queen Story Hour against bigoted hate that’s been perpetrated by the far right Patriotic Alternative organisation.

"Masquerading as protecting kids, this organisation is the one that’s putting our communities at risk.

The events are being held as part of a national tour of libraries and institutions Credit: BPM Media

"In libraries across the region, children have turned up to hear stories and have been met with bigotry and homophobic signs.

"But communities across Cornwall have made it clear that this hate does not represent us. We are both from the LGBTQ+ community and stand in solidarity with the LGBQT+ community.

"While we are proud to have stood up for a diverse and tolerant Cornwall, we are saddened that we have had to stand outside our libraries to counter these abusive messages."

A security guard at the Bodmin reading commented that the kids were "laughing their heads off" at Aida, who was a "great storyteller".

As the families left the story hour session, parents and children asked for selfies with Aida, who said the protests were a "distraction".

The drag queen, who said Cornwall's libraries have been the most supportive on the UK tour, added: "I do have concerns for my own safety and that of families who are coming to see me.

"I thought the protests might put people off, but it's actually attracting more people who are really supportive. My biggest concern is whether the council will be willing to do it again."

Cornwall Council leader Linda Taylor said: “There is so much going on in Cornwall’s libraries with activities to suit every age group to get children engaged, listening and learning whilst having a lot of fun.

“Drag Queen Story Hour is one example. These events offer children a rich experience in story telling in an interactive way.

"Developing reading skills and an understanding of different communities provides children with a positive start in life that in turn can reduce inequalities.

"The events are being held as part of a national tour of libraries and institutions including the British Museum, and they demonstrate that Cornwall’s libraries are inclusive, vibrant, and wholly positive spaces open to everyone."

One mum from Bodmin who attended Tuesday's event added: "It was hilarious and really good fun - my kids loved it and wanted to come because they love RuPaul's Drag Race. There was nothing sexual about it."

Drag Queen Story Hour also called at Callington and Torpoint libraries and will visit Camelford, Bude and Launceston today (3 August).