VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA – Police have reportedly been consulted to protect an “all-ages drag storytime” being held at two libraries in Melbourne for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).
According to Eltham Library’s event page, the “Rainbow Storytime” will feature a drag queen called Frock Hudson. The page also expressly indicates the reading is for “babies, toddlers, preschoolers” and “kids.”
“The fabulous Frock Hudson is returning [to] Eltham Library for Rainbow Storytime, bringing some sparkle to this inclusive storytime for children of all ages! Join this family friendly event of stories and songs to celebrate IDAHOBIT Day, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia,” reads the event page.
Lalor has similar language. Its event is to “share stories that celebrate diversity and promote acceptance for all.” It also states the event is for “children and families” as part of their “early years literacy” category.
Frock Hudson, Eltham Library’s invited drag queen, is cabaret performer Dean Arcuri. Arcuri describes “Frock Hudson” as his “queerer alter ego.”
Arcuri has also performed at several “Rainbow storytimes” for children, including an event at Eltham Library in 2022, a virtual reading for Shepparton Library and the Rainbow Families event at The Melba in Collingwood.
Since the public has become aware of Arcuri’s booking at Eltham Library, photos have surfaced showing the performer holding the genitals of other men or performing partially naked on stage.
As a result of the news about the child-friendly events, individuals on social media have expressed their anger and concern. Others have spread the word to call the library and complain.
🧵 @nillumbikshire & @YarraPlentyLib are hosting a Drag Storytime event 12pm 17/5/23 at Panther Pl, Eltham. This time the name of the cross dresser is "Frock Hudson" (real name Dean Arcuri) and they are in promotional material giving men hand-jobs and other sexual acts. pic.twitter.com/20U0OaLC5q
— Voice For Kids (@VoiceForKids_Au) May 9, 2023
Victorian Senator Ralph Babet has been made aware of the bookings. In comments to The Publica, he expressed concern about the sexualization of children and drag queen storytimes taking place in taxpayer funded venues.
He added that he opposes the indoctrination of children and will not be manipulated by the “hypocritical rhetoric about ‘diversity” or ‘inclusion’.”
“Sexualizing children is not ‘diversity’. Putting kids alongside Drag Queens is not ‘inclusion’,” he said.
In response, some trans activists and pro-gender ideology journalists have denounced the criticism directed at the events as “fascist.”
On May 10, Australian Guardian reporter Cait Kelly tweeted that “fascists are now targeting a drag story time at Eltham Library.”
Fascists are now targeting a drag story time event at Eltham Library, scehdualed to go ahead as part of IDAHOBIT day, with @FrockHudson performing.
A council spokesperson has told me they are “closely monitoring” the situation and “consulting with police”.
— Cait Kelly (@cait__kelly) May 10, 2023
She noted that a council spokesperson said they were “closely monitoring” the situation and “consulting with police”.
In response, State Labor MP for the area, Vicki Ward, replied, “Hatred has no place in our community.”
She also indicated in later tweets that the area’s council, Yarra Plenty, were discussing ways to ensure the storytime event could happen without push-back.
I’m talking through this with council.
— Vicki Ward MP 🌈 (@VickiWardMP) May 10, 2023
Since the public outcry about Arcuri’s booking, an organization with which the performer is affiliated, has started an online campaign of support.
Rainbow Community Angels instructed its followers on Facebook to “send some love” to Eltham Library staff.
“The staff at the Eltham Library are doing a marvellous [sic] job standing strong in the face of hate and vilification. This is the time to show them we appreciate them, love their work and are standing in solidarity with them.”
The group visited the library and said that it was made very clear to them that the library staff want the drag storytime to go ahead.
“[The staff] are all excited to see the Angels on Wednesday.”
Rainbow Community Angels also stated that Eltham Library is the only venue offering drag storytime in the whole state. It does not appear that is actually the case, given Monash Council recently experienced its own backlash for a planned library drag storytime on May 19.
The group has also organized a Facebook event in support of Arcuri at Eltham Library.
The event says that the group will use their “glorious rainbow wings” to shield kids and families from “any haters that turn up on the day.”
“Our marshals will provide support on the ground to all the LGBTIQA+ community members and allies who turn up – YOU – and there will be flags to wave, music to dance to, chalk to be chalked and fun to be had. BYO rainbow clothes – dress up for fun!”
A GoFundMe was created too so the group’s members can “take part in peaceful actions to support community safety at inclusive events like Drag Storytime, currently being targeted as part of a broader rise in transphobia and homophobia in Australia and beyond.”
Drag queen storytimes and the involvement of minors in these events has become a matter of heated debate. Many question the gender ideology being pushed and its impact on children.
In early May, Monash Council cancelled a drag queen storytime after 200 people attended the south-eastern area’s council meeting in Glen Waverley.
Many people were protesting a drag queen event for children planned at Oakleigh Library on May 19.
Lalor Library did not respond to an inquiry from The Publica with regards to which drag queen they had invited to perform for the children. Eltham Library also did not respond to requests for comment.