Right-wing mob harass drag queen Aida H Dee with ‘paedophile’ chants at kids’ story event
Drag queen Aida H Dee has been left fearing for her life after a right-wing mob stormed a recent Drag Queen Story Hour UK event.
Alarming video footage seen by PinkNews shows 25 protesters storming Reading Central Library on Monday morning (25 July) and hurling homophobic slurs at Dee, a 27-year-old author known off-stage as Sab Samuel, as well as parents, guardians and children.
As part of Drag Queen Story Hour UK’s programming, Samuel and other drag performers read to children and their families in libraries, bookstores and schools to promote diversity, inclusivity and kindness.
But at the first stop of his summer tour, in which he’ll visit 69 libraries up and down the country until September, protesters met Samuel with placards reading “nonce upon a time” and barked insults into megaphones so they could be heard through the library windows.
The crowd heckled families as they entered the library. They held up a banner in front of police guarding the entrance reading “Welcome, Groomers” while accusing parents of not protecting their children by taking them to see a “sex worker” and a “paedophile”.
One video captured the moment when, in the middle of the Drag Queen Story Hour session attended by children as young as three, two protesters broke into the room.
“This is disgusting. He’s a child groomer. This is child grooming,” one of the protesters yelled as children screamed and one mother began crying.
NEW: #SovereignCitizens attempt to enter a library to arrest a Drag Queen.
Protestors harass parents as they walk in, accusing them of taking their kids to see a ‘paedophile’.
📍Reading Central pic.twitter.com/G04ly3G0ru
— Covid Radicals 🇺🇦 (@CovidRadicals) July 25, 2022
Saying that Samuel is teaching the children about “all the genders”, the woman said: “There are only two sexes.”
Both protesters were led out by police officers around 20 minutes later after scuffling with library security and police. “We’re here to protect children,” she added while being shuffled out of the room, her own child screaming off-camera.
Once the protesters were thrown out, the room erupted with applause.
Samuel told PinkNews that one of the women had bypassed security by claiming she was attending the event. “She had used her own disabled son as a Trojan horse,” Samuel said, adding: “The child had a meltdown and was screaming as she laughed. She should be ashamed.”
After the reading came to an end, Samuel was escorted out of the library by police – but the abuse did not end there. A man came towards him shouting “paedophile”, according to footage.
The heckler said: “All of this being spent on a paedophile is f**king ridiculous, isn’t it?”
Several protesters scuffled with police along the pavement as they tried to break through, one video showed, before chanting: “Pedo protection.”
Samuel said: “Police had to escort me out of the building and make a human shield because they were literally chasing me.”
Drag queen Aida H Dee says if guns were legal in UK protesters ‘would have brought them’
Protesters followed Aida H Dee to their second Story Hour reading that day at Tilehurst Library. In a video, a man told officers guarding the event he intended to perform a “citizen’s arrest” on Samuel.
“You aren’t taking your child in to see a paedophile, are you? What a very strange thing to do,” he remarked as a family walked inside.
The protester, speaking with a Thames Valley Police officer providing security for the second Story Hour, said: “You arrest him then. You obviously know the guy’s dressing up as a drag queen. You know it’s grooming children. It’s a paedophile. It’s an act of paedophilia. Grooming children.”
Samuel said that since the two sessions he has been bombarded by angry messages and phone calls threatening him with violence and calling him a “pedo”.
The protesters, he said, are now plotting to visit his house and “arrest” him themselves.
“They said they’re going to take me to the police station as well, which means they’re not only threatening to assault be but kidnap me too,” Samuel said.
The It’s Snot A Problem author praised Thames Valley Police for protecting him and Story Hour attendees. “One officer came to me after and said I want to get this book for my child. It was just really lovely,” he added.
Thames Valley Police told PinkNews: “Officers monitored a protest outside Reading Library in Abbey Square, Reading, at around 9.30am [on Monday].
“No arrests were made.”
He said: “I’m all energied [sic] out. I’ve cried. I’m angry. These hateful people are the reason I do what I do – they’re just a reason to keep going.
“I can’t say I’m shocked or surprised by what they did. It doesn’t matter though how non-shocked I was by the fact they were doing what they were doing – it was still scary. It still raised my heart rate. I am scared for the rest of these events.”
To Samuel, there was an alarming similarity to the protest he faced to what many Story Time drag queens have faced in the US.
As “groomer” increasingly becomes the go-to slur of choice by Republicans, far-right groups such as Proud Boys and the Three Percenters have crashed Story Hour events and hurled hatred at performers all in front of children. Among the thugs who protested at San Lorenzo Library, California, was a man who wore a t-shirt bearing a rifle and the words: “Kill Your Local Pedophile.”
Another event in the US saw a man protest a family-friendly show while holding a gun, prompting people to flee into the library for safety.
These are horrifying scenes Samuel said he could easily imagine happening to him. “Thankfully we don’t have guns because some of these people would have brought them if they could,” he said. “The scary thing is that if of them had a knife on them, if they had the opportunity, I think they would take it.”
“We knew this was going to happen,” Samuel added.
Following Reading, Samuel will run sessions in libraries at Crewe, Bristol, Cornwall, Brighton and Hove, Portsmouth, Leeds, Cardiff, Rochdale, Bolton and Somerset.
Even before the tour started, it faced heat. The Family Education Trust, an anti-trans charity that researches “family breakdowns”, encouraged people to send its template letter calling the classes “inappropriate … given that images of men dressed as women are highly sexualised”.
Some blanket booked more than 2,000 free tickets to several of the sessions up and down the country, Samuel said. “They just keep going,” he said, “they’re incessant.”
LGBTQ+ progress has been patchy at best in recent years. Trans rights have faced increasing pushback from the government and the press, with support for the community now being steadily chipped away.
More from PinkNews
This makes it all the more important to be visible, Samuel said.
After the first Story Hour session, Samuel received a Facebook message from a parent.
“I have to admit walking into the library was daunting,” they said, adding that their child asked them: “‘Mummy, why are they shouting at us?”, “Mummy, what is wrong with them?’
“It was intimidating but gave us as a family an opportunity (on our way back home) to talk to the children about diversity and reinforce some basic human compassion, kindness, morals and values that the crowd outside the library was clearly not lucky enough to be taught as children themselves.”