Ottawa Pride event organizers are taking extra steps to keep everyone safe and happy after a drag queen storytime event was interrupted by a religious protester.
Adrianna Exposée, the host of the event, spoke with Narcity and shared her experience in being confronted by the man who said the people attending the event would be "cast into a lake of fire."
"I felt shock, and thought it may have been a joke," Adrianna said, describing her initial feelings at the interruption. Once it became obvious that the man was serious, however, the 20-year-old said she felt "outrage and a duty to protect."
After the event ended in such a frustrating and unfortunate way, Adrianna said she was "just left with a feeling of sadness."
Ottawa Police posted a reminder after the event that anyone who doesn't feel safe during the event should contact the police. Adrianna, who has been performing for two years, said that this type of harassment isn't unfamiliar. "Often when coming to shows I experience harassment," she said.
Adrianna had higher hopes for the evening of storytelling. "Initially I was hoping the kids would have a different role model from the ordinary people they see day-to-day," she said. "I was hoping they would open their eyes to the beauty of being different."
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Luckily, many of the parents at the event stood up for Adrianna, coming to her defense. "It felt empowering," she said. "We supported one another because the protester was attacking us as a community."
Adrianna isn't letting the event bring her down, and has even planned another storytime event.
The lessons of inclusion, acceptance, and celebrating being different shouldn't get lost in the story of one angry protester. There has been plenty of support from the community and local officials, with MPP Kim McLeod saying in a speech, "I will work with the business improvement area, our local city councillor Rick Chiarelli and anybody else who wants to make sure we can put that event back on bigger and better."