Melbourne Drag Storytime event moves online only after public outcry

Eltham Library's Drag Storytime event has been shifted to a virtual platform due to safety concerns following widespread complaints.

Melbourne Drag Storytime event moves online only after public outcry
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In response to a significant number of objections from parents, the Drag Queen Storytime event, originally planned to be held at Eltham Library, will now be broadcast online on Wednesday. 

Felicity Marlowe, the Rainbow Families head at the LGBTQI+ support organisation, Switchboard Victoria, told The Age newspaper that the decision was made after consultations with the police, highlighting safety issues. "We are incredibly disappointed the event has been moved online," Marlowe expressed.

Jane Cowell, CEO of Yarra Plenty Regional Library service, which operates Eltham Library, said that police advice concerning "serious concerns of threats of violence" from demonstrators was under review. "Safety of our rainbow families and staff are our primary concern," Cowell emphasised.

The move follows a series of cancellations of drag-themed children's activities in Victoria, including Rainbow Story Time and singalong at Hawthorn Library, Drag Queen Story Time at Oakleigh Library, and events at several regional councils.

Despite what many see as valid concerns, mainstream media reports continue to classify the outrage as hate against the Rainbow Community, highlighting only the most extreme responses and ignoring legitimate concerns raised by parents and ratepayers who have raised issues.

Dean Arcuri, well-known drag entertainer, also known by the stage name Frock Hudson, will host the online event "in celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia."

The Rainbow Community Angels, a group of LGBTIQA+ advocates, have committed to gather at Eltham Library on Wednesday despite the decision to transfer the event online to provide a "shield against protesters".

Supporters argue that Drag Storytimes, which involve drag queens reading books to children, aim to promote reading, acceptance of diversity, and inclusion in an "enjoyable manner."

However, these events have become a global cultural flashpoint, prompting rising protests and cancellations in New Zealand, the UK, and the US with parents consistently saying the issue is not with the private lives of individuals, but the exposure to young children.

Arcuri who has publicly shared sexually explicit and graphic content on social media, portrayed himself as a victim of hate despite concerns from parents. "All I am doing is reading a book. I'm not bringing in books that are not already in these libraries," Arcuri defended.

The images of Arcuri in various stages of undress and posing with sex toys, some too graphic to post in this article, have raised concerns after being shared by protesters on social media in response to the event. The Age however reported that Arcuri has a working with children check.

The Australian Services Union, representing library staff, decried the opposition to librarians' efforts to educate young people about inclusion, respect, and diversity. "The union will take all steps necessary to protect librarians at work," pledged Lisa Darmanin from the Australian Services Union.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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