September 28, 2022

In footage shared online, Michael Chaves is shown scolding parents – some of whom are carrying babies – arriving for the Drag Queen Story Hour UK, an event where books are read that promote compassion and inclusion to children. Chaves goes on to falsely accuse Sab Samuel, who was performing that day as drag queen Aida H Dee, of being a pedophile. CNN has reached out to Chaves for comment. he hasn’t answered. ,

As protesters unfurled a banner that read: “Welcome beauticians” outside the library, two women pretending to be attendees interrupted the reading inside the building, calling Samuel an “adult entertainer” as they terrorized parents and children in the process, according to Samuel. . At least one mother was seen crying after the incident, Samuel said.

The term “groomer” is a homophobic stereotype used to falsely slander queer people and their supporters as child sex abusers.

At the end of the session, Samuel left the library under police protection as protesters hurled hurlers.

​Recent angry confrontations over events involving drag queens in the UK follow a worrying precedent from the United States, where far-right extremist groups have influenced similar events and conservative politicians have pledged to criminalize adults who take children to shows.
Seoul's burgeoning drag scene faces conservative attitudes
It coincided with a broader movement to curtail rights related to bodily autonomy, ranging from abortion access to gender-affirming care, marked by a wave of anti-LGBTQ bills and Justice Clarence Thomas questioning the equality marriage as the US Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion in the United States.

“This is the same hate (as seen in the US) but just in a different context … the same disgust, the same homophobia and transphobia,” Samuel, who founded Drag Queen Story Hour UK, told CNN.

Extremist groups in Britain are now feeling emboldened amid “a wider push against (queer) identities in the public eye”, according to Tim Squirrell, an expert on online extremism and communications director at the think tank Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD).

“Even people who are quite progressive in their beliefs and politics have become quite radical[in their opposition to] this thing, which really, really worries me, not only about the real danger of queer people being in public, but in the US, we’ve seen it connected to a much broader effort to take away LGBT rights,” he told CNN.

The pushback against LGBTQ rights in the U.K. has hit trans people hard, activists say, where so-called gender-bending activists and a sympathetic British press have succeeded in undermining efforts to make it easier for trans people to change their status. their gender.

Britain’s Conservative leadership contest has seen candidates espouse anti-trans rhetoric and promise policies that would hinder the rights of transgender people.

Trans people may be left out of plans to ban conversion therapy in the UK, while some religious and other anti-trans groups are campaigning against teaching what they call “gender ideology” or information about intersex and non-binary identities , to school.

Drag queens have also been targeted by some feminists, who criticize them for what they perceive as caricatured portrayals of women and over-sexualization.

Challenging expectations

Samuels, who stars as Aida H Dee on the Drag Queen Story Hour, told CNN that some of the young attendees at his event are finding 'joy'?  when they see themselves reflected in his personality.
Drag culture has been in focus for a long time LGBTQ peoplechallenging traditional expectations and beliefs about the ways in which people of all genders and sexual orientations express themselves.

Samuel said this is what inspired him to quit his job in marketing and start Drag Queen Story Hour UK three years ago. She said she wanted to provide children with different role models, which she didn’t have growing up. But he says death threats soon followed, and Samuel said that in 2020 he and his friend moved houses because anti-LGBTQ trolls “found out where I live.”

He said last week’s incident pushed him to the brink.

Speaking to CNN, Samuel vehemently denied accusations that children who watch his shows are being exposed to sexual language. What he does is a public good, he said.

​Samuel, who is autistic and has ADHD, gave an example from the Reading event of why he finds story time so important. “Some autistic children and their parents had come especially to see me because they knew I was autistic,” he said. When some of the young attendees realized his drag queen persona, Aida H Dee, was a play on ADHD, a condition they also had, their faces lit up, he said.

“I could see the sparks in the synapses of their brains firing with joy … (they thought) this person was amazing and I loved it,” he continued.

But as the anti-drag queen protests intensify, analysts are increasingly concerned about the extremist hate speech surrounding them.

Monday’s protest in Reading included the anti-government Chaves as well as members of the anti-government, mainstream civic group Alpha Men Assemble, said Joe Ondrak, head of investigations at the threat intelligence organization Logically.

The term sovereign citizens originated from USA, according to Hope Not Hate. It is based on the belief that governmental institutions are illusory, so followers need not abide by them. The FBI has noted that sovereign citizens operate in loosely connected networks without established leadership.

Alpha Men Assemble is described by the anti-extremism advocacy group Hope Not Hate as “an attempt to create a hard-line activist base and has attracted some far-right individuals”.

The team received a lot media attention in recent months over fears it would develop into a US-style private militia with its alleged recruitment of ex-veterans and military training sessions. CNN was unable to reach the group for comment as it has broken down following the media and governmental scrutiny.
An Illinois cafe was vandalized with hate speech before a drag show
Ondrak worries that conspiracy groups, which gained a large following during the pandemic, are now turning to LGBTQ targets using “groomer” narratives.

“I honestly thought that what would happen next (is) some kind of opposition to the green energy transition, but that kind of left the public discourse — so unfortunately, the queer community has become their target,” he said.

CNN has seen at least four anti-criminal Telegram channels, including one with more than 17,000 followers, sharing flyers and posts to protest the Drag Queen Story Hour.

When asked why groups that appear to facilitate hate speech are allowed to operate on their platform, a Telegram spokesperson said: “Telegram is a free speech platform where people are welcome to peacefully express their views, including those with which we do not agree”. The spokesperson added that “posts that glorify or encourage violence or its perpetrators are expressly prohibited by Telegram’s terms of service and are removed by our moderators.”

As for the white nationalist groups participating in the protests, such as Patriotic Alternative, ISD’s Squirrell described them as “deeply homophobic.” ,

They believe that “whites are being systematically replaced by non-whites in Western countries,” he said. They say a “shadow cabal of Jews” is encouraging whites to adopt queer identities as a way to lower the white birthrate — views rooted in neo-Nazi ideology — Squirrell added.

In response to CNN’s request for comment, a spokeswoman for Patriotic Alternative said: “Drag queens are often highly sexualized caricatures of women, and we believe that children should be allowed to enjoy their childhoods and should not be subjected to LGBT indoctrination.” .

Two days after the events in Reading, in the northern English town of Crewe, members of Patriotic Alternative picketed a library that hosted Drag Queen Story Hour UK event. The group’s leader later promised more protests against Samuel’s summer tour in dozens of libraries across the country.

The protests continued last Thursday when Samuel visited libraries in Bristol, a city in southwest England known for its liberal attitudes.

Rosie, a local parent who asked CNN not to use her last name out of fear for her safety, told CNN she decided to take her young daughter to the event because she believed it was important to learn about inclusion and diversity. communities.

“I love drag queens, I think it’s fun, it’s art, it’s a laugh and something different that includes books and stories,” she said.

But Rosie said she was unprepared for the vitriol she encountered at the library, where protesters waved signs reading “Stop grooming children” and a line of police escorted parents into the building. At least one mother wept inside as protesters played the theme song to the British TV show “Jim’ll Fix It,” whose late host was a notorious child sex abuser, over loudspeakers outside the library.

“It was just horrible. I expected it to be happy, considering it was Pride a few weeks ago in Bristol.” Instead, he said the harassment by protesters was “very regressive and (I feel) naïve to think there’s been any progress.”

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