Nelson library cancels drag queen storytelling event following threats

Nelson public library statement on the closing of its comment section
Nelson Public Library closed its comment section on its Facebook page following a storm of hateful comments. Photo: NPL website screenshot.
John Rune - CJLY - KootenayBC | 08-03-2023
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A planned story time at Nelson Public Library for Saturday featuring a drag artist has been cancelled, following a barrage of online outrage and threats against the library, according to the performer.

Birkley Valks, a Nelson-based drag-performer, said he was contacted by a Nelson library staff member on Tuesday morning informing him that the event would not be happening this weekend, citing concerns the venue had received threats from groups in Castlegar and Salmo.

"I was informed this morning that the library had way too many threats, and that they did not feel comfortable, and I respect them. They have done amazing things," Valks said.

No specific details were provided at that time, Valks said, but the announcement of the event triggered a storm of hateful comments against drag artists and transgender individuals and accusations against the library for hosting a sexually charged event for minors. During the weekend, the library shut down comments on its Facebook page, citing it had zero tolerance for hate speech.

Valks planned reading for the day was a book about foxes–one of his son's favourite books.

"There's no gender. There's no sex, there's [none] of that," said Valks.

Nelson Public Library Chief Librarian Tracy Thierrien did not return a KCR request for comment, neither did a library board representative. On Tuesday, visitors to the library were handed a pamphlet, stating the event had been postponed.

Several similar instances of disruption or threats against drag story time events at public venues have been noted across North America in recent years. Last October, a drag event in Oregon drew protesters armed with assault rifles who opposed the event.

The library board said it will issue a statement on the situation on Wednesday.

LISTEN - "I wish so much that nobody ever had to deal with the things we have to deal with"– Drag performer speaks out after threats cancel kids' story time event: