Stephen Avenue was the site of yet another protest against drag shows, the third planned in as many weeks in Calgary.
Protesters and counter-protesters gathered in front of Social Beer Haus on Saturday morning, as the restaurant held a drag brunch featuring drag performers Misty Meadows, DW, Tara Nuff, Megan Moneymuves, and Valerie Hunt.
The protest has been part of a growing number of anti-drag protests in the city, which began in late 2022, following a larger rise in protests against LGBTQ2S+ communities, and drag events, across North America.
Approximately 20 anti-drag protesters were counter-protested by approximately 30 people. Numerous Calgary Police officers, including members of the city’s Indigenous Relations team, attended to keep the peace.
“I think for the most part Calgarians are in support of the drag community, and these guys are embarrassing themselves,” said a counter-protester who LWC has agreed to identify only as Momma, due to threats of violence she has faced following previous protests.
“I’ve gotten written support from every single almost every single business on the block, supporting the drag community, and offering a safe haven if we need somewhere to go warm up anything like that.”
Former political candidate for Ward 9 and current preacher Derek Reimer attended the protest.
During the protest, he alleged that Indigenous two-spirited individuals were un-biblical, as were the members of the LBGTQ2S+ community.
Other protesters held signs alleging than transgender individuals are pedophiles and that so-called “grooming” of children was occurring. The phrase has grown in usage over the past year over social media, and through far-right media networks and television programming as a slur against members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Momma said that while she didn’t take the general barbs thrown back and forth during the protest seriously, the messages against marginalized communities she did.
“The hateful stuff towards the the marginalized communities absolutely does bother me though, what’s why I’m here,” she said.
Likely no-short term solutions
Calgary Buffalo MLA Joe Ceci attended the protest on the side of the counter-protesters.
He said that he was there on behalf of himself, and for openly gay Edmonton Highlands Norwood MLA Janice Irwin who was unable to attend.
“I’m here because love is love. There is no reason on earth why people of different sexual orientations, different people in drag, can’t live their lives out in peace and quiet,” Ceci said.
“The people across the street just are wrong, that’s that’s the long and short of it.”
He said that there was too much anger in society, and that there was unlikely a short-term solution to pull back from the current situation.
“I think there is too much vitriol, there’s too much convoy stuff going on, where people are emboldened to try and overrule others in their lives. And that’s just wrong,” Ceci said.
“I think you’ll see counter protests like this, with more and more people sort of saying, ‘you know, back off I want to live my life the way I want to live my life, I’m not interfering with yours.'”
Ceci said that he would continue to advocate for in-school Gay Straight Alliances, for the LGBTQ2S+ community, the education advocacy and for the province’s Human Rights Commission.