Drag Queen Story Hour, which is touring nationwide and is visiting three Portsmouth libraries, says its aim is to ‘show the world that being different is not a bad thing’.
However, more than a dozen objectors gathered outside Southsea Library to campaign against what they called an ‘insidious’ and ‘sinister’ event. Some called the storytime session ‘grooming’.
A group of counter-protesters flew LGBTQ+ flags outside the library while holding signs with slogans such as ‘stop sexualising queer culture’.
They also brought bubble-blowing tubes to hand out to children going into the library.
One person said: ‘We’ve already given them all away, which is a good thing. We are just here to make sure parents and children have a nice time.’
Protester Janey Still brought a canvas celebrating the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Harry Potter books - but says she chose not to put ‘cancelled’ J.K. Rowling’s name on the sign.
The author has met backlash for her controversial tweets about the transgender community.
Janey said: ‘We don’t think it’s appropriate. Drag queens are adult entertainment.
‘We never experienced something like this when we were children. I was a tomboy. What would have happened to me?
‘Their minds are being moulded.’
Her partner Jane added: ‘It’s insidious’.
Another protester, Helen McKnight, said that the storytelling sessions are ‘wrong’, ‘sinister’, and ‘depraved’.
She said: ‘This is adult entertainment, it’s sexualised...It’s trying to influence little children.
‘I can’t see how any decent human could be okay with this.
‘You wouldn’t ever dream of taking a child to a sex show.
‘It’s getting out of control. We’ll be taking kids to a strip club next.’
However, one counter-protester said: ‘These people saying we are sexualising children, they are the ones looking at this drag queen and seeing filth.
‘When my kids come and see story hour, they see a lovely lady reading a lovely story.
‘We are sick of being accused of being paedophiles.
‘We haven’t come here to argue or have debates - we just want to make sure that the kids who come here have a good time.’
Michael Manoel Chaves said that he and his companions travelled down from Kent with the intention of putting a ‘citizen’s arrest’ on the ‘degenerate’ performer inside the library, but decided against it.
Ann, another protester, believes that the storytime session is ‘all part of the woke agenda’.
She said: ‘This drag show is all about indoctrinating children.’
The noise at the scene drew a crowd of onlookers outside Southsea Library, as one protester shouted at the counter-protesters that they had been ‘paid off’ to be there.
Mum Joanna Quade was in Palmerston Road with her daughter, 11-year-old Imogen.
Gesturing towards the protesters, Joanna said: ‘They’re just here to spread hate, they don’t care what it is.
‘I think the storytime events are brilliant. It’s all inclusive, and kids love this stuff. They don’t see this division.’
Imogen agreed, saying that she thinks the shouting protesters are ‘just being idiotic’.
Counter protests were staged later in Guildhall Square, outside the city central library.