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Council says drag storytelling event cancelled due to 'degrading' online comments

The council had asked the group to put on the event as part of Pride festival celebrations.

The group said the response to these events in the past has
The group said the response to these events in the past has "always been entirely positive".
Image: Glitter Hole

Updated Apr 15th 2019, 1:38 PM

DUN LAOGHAIRE-RATHDOWN County Council has said it made the decision to cancel a drag storytelling event at a library due to degrading comments made online about the performers and staff. 

The family event was being organised by drag collective Glitter Hole, which has run Drag Story Time events for children three times previously at various locations, including at the International Literary Festival Dublin last summer.

The group said the response to these events has “always been entirely positive”.

This morning Glitter Hole criticised the council’s initial statement about the cancellation of the event, accusing the council of labeling “the queer people the risk in this scenario”.

The group said the reason for the cancellation was health and safety after a barrage of hateful comments directed at it over the weekend, but the council’s statement last night made no reference to this. Instead, it cited a review of the age appropriateness of the event as the reason. 

However in a new statement following queries from TheJournal.ie, the council said it wanted to clarify that the cancellation was “due to our significant concern at the high level of degrading, inappropriate comments on social media about the performers and library staff”. 

‘Violent homophobia’

Glitter Hole said it was contacted by the council last month and asked to put on one of its drag storytelling performances on 26 June for this year’s Pride festival. It was due to take place at Deansgrange Library.

It said over the past weekend it had been “inundated with extremely violent homophobia from a frighteningly large group of bigots who believe that a few drag queens reading books to children amounts to child abuse”.

The library decided that the event was a safety risk, which we accepted given the scale and gravity of the vitriol that was being spewed on twitter. However, the statement issued by DLR last night cites ‘age appropriateness’ as their reason for cancellation.

The council’s first statement had said: “This event was programmed as an age appropriate, family-friendly story time session. However, following a review in terms of age appropriateness, this event will not now go ahead at this time, and may be rescheduled as part of a future Book Festival lineup.”

Glitter Hole said the implication of this statement was that the content of its drag shows for adults had deemed its performers inappropriate children’s storytellers.

“There is no mention in this statement of the safety concerns for the performers or audience of the event due to the ongoing abuse we’re receiving online,” the group’s statement said this morning.

“The irony is that we were booked for Pride and yet DLR have responded to the hate speech we have received by deciding we are not age appropriate performers.”

In its new statement this afternoon, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said health and safety is at the forefront of its concerns. 

“We would like to reassure the public that this event is age-appropriate and family-friendly.”

The council said its libraries “object to homophobia in all its forms” and that it reserves the right to remove content or comments on its social media platforms that “may be considered offensive, abusive or defamatory”. 

“DLR Libraries remains safe, inclusive and welcoming places for all and offer a diverse, cultural programme.”

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