Eastern PEI Theater Postpones Drag Storytime Event Due to Online Attacks
A drag storytime event planned for Kings Playhouse in Georgetown has been postponed after being the target of online attacks.
Trey Yeo, a drag performer and producer who appears under the role of Treyla Parktrash, was scheduled to read a children’s book to families at Kings Playhouse in March.
He says the purpose of the event was to encourage inclusivity and acceptance in a supportive atmosphere for children.
“I wanted to dress like a Disney princess, we wanted to read some books, [and] Between books we wanted to do some activities, like painting – just showing the kids that they’re having a good time, but also being able to be themselves, be authentic.
The plan was to have an actor read a children’s book A day in the life of Marlon Bundoabout a romance between two rabbits of the same sex.
“It’s a really sweet story,” said Catherine O’Brien, interim managing director of King’s Playhouse. “[It’s about] two rabbits in love. I mean, what’s not to love about it?”
Storytime was not canceled entirely, the theater said in a Facebook post: “We are delighted to be working with the Provincial Library to reschedule this event and we look forward to continuing our inclusive program for islanders. “
Some of the backlash on social media included profanity and slurs against LGBTQ people. Other posts pinned the graphic for the event saying it was only for children under the age of 10.
O’Brien said this graphic could have been worded better.
“It didn’t mean that parents can’t be with the kids … I maybe should have just said it’s for families,” she said.
“We were looking for the age level that would really be captivated by this book that we had chosen…Kids over 10 might find it a bit young for them, that was it.”
O’Brien said the playhouse has held drag events in the past with little backlash. But after the negative comments and hate speech started to spread, they decided to postpone the event “out of caution”.
“It’s gotten pretty aggressive online and our drag queen performer has been harassed in person as well,” she said.
“We still think it’s an important thing. We want to do it.”
The events have attracted protests
Drag Storytime events have become popular in libraries and community centers across Canada to start conversations with families and children.
“It’s a great way to entertain families and help them understand gender diversity,” O’Brien said.
But as the events grew in popularity, so did protests across the country — a trend that Scott Alan, coordinator of the men’s sexual health program at the Charlottetown-based PEERS Alliance, is “really concerned about.”
“I think it’s doing a lot of harm to the community as a whole,” he said.
“That kind of harassment is unnecessary and the kind of programming that’s made for the youth is right and it’s good for them at the end of the day.”
Alan said there are mental health supports for performers and community members who experience harassment, including Our Landing Place, which provides fully funded mental health services to the LGBTQ2IA+ community on PEI
“We are all here to help these people in these situations and to offer them the support they need,” he said.
The show must go on
Meanwhile, Yeo said he has received support for past events and performances on the island and will continue with other upcoming shows.
“I work very hard to create an inclusive environment here at PEI for people who don’t fit into the norm here,” he said.
“I’ll still be going if not harder to be a presence here at PEI, especially as a queer person, as a drag entertainer.”
Yeo has made his social media accounts private but said he did his best not to let the hate get to him.
“The whole point of these events is to show people that the 2SLGBTQ+ community is not evil and that demonizing this group is not the right thing to do,” he said.
“We as individuals just want to inspire everyone to live their authentic lives and just spread joy and love. That’s all.”