Drag queen story time: Hundreds counter-protest right-wing group

Counter-protestors gather outside the Honor Oak Pub, located between Forest Hill and Honor Oak, Lewisham. Pic: Imogen Adam.

By Imogen Adam and Molly Smith; pictures by Imogen Adam

Counter-protesters outnumbered far-right group Turning Point UK members 20 to one on February 25 as hundreds gathered in support of a drag storytelling event in Lewisham pub.

Around 800 people gathered to support the pub, The Honor Oak, and its story-telling event for children, opposing Turning Point’s protest which saw only 40 people in attendance.

GB News’ Calvin Robinson spoke at the event in support of Turning Point and claimed that the storytelling session was unsuitable for children. He also called it “grooming”.  

Robinson said in his speech: “Ask not why your children are so keen to spend time with drag queens, ask why drag queens are so keen to spend time with your children.”

The drag storytelling event, hosted by drag artist That Girl, takes place monthly at The Honor Oak and is described as a PG hour “of whimsical story time, where everyone is welcome, and magic is possible”.

Turning Point UK claim that the storytelling session, is not suitable for children, and call it ‘grooming’

The counter-protestors gathered outside the pub from 10 am, with speakers reciting poetry, playing music, and encouraging acceptance.

Mike Holland, a local teacher, spoke generally about his frustrations towards the current Conservative government and the importance of standing up against bigotry.

He said: “The fight against fascism, the right for trans rights, the fight against racism, is a fight against the tories and this bloody rotten system.”

Most attendees then moved to the corner of Brockley Rise and Brockley Park Road, where Turning Point UK was protesting.

The protest in pictures:

The group had originally pledged to protest directly outside of the pub but was held back by police and counter-protestors, 410ft away.

Turning Point UK left the area first, at approximately 12.45 pm.

Some speakers likened the day’s events to The Battle of Lewisham in 1977 when 500 members of the far-right National Front were outnumbered by counter-protest groups of 4000 people.

Damien Egan, Major of Lewisham, told News Shopper:  “In my opinion, these protesters are promoting misinformation and attempting to stir division – which goes very much against the spirit of Lewisham.” 

Roy Brinkley and Calvin Robinson [pictured] spoke on behalf of Turning Point UK. The sign behind them reads ‘Groomer Free Zone.’ Pic: Imogen Adam.

The right-wing group had originally announced their plans to protest on social media, with the aim to stop the event from taking place.

On February 23, Honor Oak pub released a statement on Facebook addressing the claims. They said: “It has come to our attention that there may be some misunderstanding about the event. We wanted to reassure you all that our popular Magical Storytelling event will be age appropriate and it isn’t anything different to what families will see and experience together in a theatre.” 

Honor Oak pub’s drag storytelling event is the latest in a string of protests instigated by right-wing groups.  

Patriotic Alternative also organised protests to stop drag queens from reading to children and two weeks ago far-right protesters clashed with LGBTQ+ rights supporters outside of the Tate Britain art gallery to rally against a separate storytelling session.  

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