The far right has tried and failed to stop a drag story time event from taking place in Wollongong. With less than a week’s notice, more than 100 people rallied on Saturday 24 June to successfully defend the event.
The bigots were met by protesters on the front steps of the Thirroul library, who chanted: “Drag queens are welcome, fascists are not!” The protesters cheered on library staff and attendees who refused to cancel the event.
The far right was totally outnumbered. Only a few sorry handfuls of neo-Nazis (wearing 88 “Heil Hitler” shirts) and other bigots showed up. Some performed the Hitler salute while holding a banner saying “Stop Pedo Child Groomer”. These are supposedly the “concerned parents” we hear so much about. They were forced onto the road opposite the library. Passersby repeatedly berated them, and drivers gave them the finger.
In the week leading up to the story time, librarians and the council received abuse and threats, but held firm. A number of other councils have cancelled similar events because of pressure from the far right. All this does is embolden the bigots and their anti-LGBTI campaigning. What will be cancelled next?
Saturday’s protest was a reminder of why we need to stand up to the far right. Rather than progressives and the LGBTI community being demoralised that another drag story time had been cancelled, it was the right who was defeated. Protesting to defend the story time sent a message of solidarity and emboldened our side to continue standing up for LGBTI rights.
Earlier this month in Perth, a similar rally of more than 400 LGBTI rights activists and supporters defended a drag story time against far-right bigots. More of this is needed. Majority opinion is on the side of LGBTI rights. Publicly and decisively outnumbering the far-right minority when it mobilises is how we can put the bigots back in their place.