Drag queen doxxed and threatened with crucifixion by Mumsnet users all because she wanted to read books to children
A Drag Queen Story Hour UK event was cancelled Monday (June 22) after a coordinated campaign by Mumsnet users and various north England anti-trans networks that even received the apparent backing from a local councillor.
Following weeks of planning and talks with council administrators, Aida H Dee, the founder of Drag Queen Story Hour UK, was set to host an online reading workshop with Leeds Libraries on June 22.
But the event was dealt a devastating broadside by Mumsnet users who clogged Leeds City Council inboxes with emails demanding the Story Hour be shut down.
During the saga, Dee has been doxxed and had anti-trans individuals threaten her life, she claimed in an interview with PinkNews, which has left her emotionally rattled and with no choice but to seek safeguarding measures from the police.
All for wanting to read picture books to children.
Drag Queen Story Hour UK being cancelled is a ‘kick in the face’ for LGBT+ youth, says founder.
The event, scheduled for 2pm, entered the radar of councillor Sarah Field. The Garforth and Swillington representative has ties with anti-trans groups.
She chaired a June 2019 meeting at Leeds Civic Hall, organised by “gender critical” group Leeds Spinners. At the meeting, according to transcripts, she said: “There is no such thing as living as a woman.
“We are women. And it is our female biology which makes us women. It is our sex.”
Field fired a volley of Facebook posts, shown in screenshots seen by PinkNews, asking for people to email their “concerns” about the event and levelled it as “shameless misogyny”.
“This is the first time a Drag Queen Story Hour event has been cancelled due to the rhetoric of anti-trans groups,” Dee said, detailing how anti-trans individuals have, she claimed, shared her private details online. “This has caused a lot of stress.”
Dee, known off-stage as Sab Samuel, explained that the last few days have been a bracing tutorial of life in a Britain paralysed by anti-trans voices.
“Leeds City Council have actually put out this message of anti-gay and transphobic rhetoric,” he said. “I feel I feel so upset for anybody who is LGBT+ in Leeds… this is such a kick in the face, to be honest.”
But above all, as much as the bristling odyssey has plunged Samuel into paranoia, it’s the children he’s most concerned about.
“I can’t imagine being a child hearing about this Drag Queens Story Hour, being one of those kids, who is probably not within gender norms, to hear that it gets cancelled because there are haters out there, that would make the world seem so scary,” he said.
“I’ve got some kids with my face on a poster in their bedroom because I am that person that makes them feel safe and know that I am actually able to be that role model.
“To imagine that there’s going to be a kid in Leeds who was excited because there could be some sort of potential new role model to them. Somebody that they can actually relate to, to be told that they think they’re not allowed because it’s…” Samuel added, sighing wearily, his voice tinted by the exhaustion of the past 24 hours.
Mumsnet users, anti-trans community groups and a Leeds councillor coordinate campaign to cancel ‘misogynistic’ event. And won.
Leeds Libraries, the council-run agency that operates local libraries in Leeds, announced in a since-deleted Facebook post that the event was being cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances, our Drag Queen Story Hour event scheduled for Monday has been cancelled,” the page wrote June 21.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
It came after an intense, dayslong backlash brewed by anti-trans organisations and a Mumsnet thread. Field, according to screenshots, commented on a Facebook promotion for the event.
She urged Leeds locals to email their “concerns” about the reading to her.
“I’ve just seen this,” she wrote, “and shall be asking for a full and frank explanation from the chief executive [Tom Riordan Tom] for this utterly unacceptable misogyny.”
Her comment was wielded like a club by anti-trans groups to compel Samuel and the organisers to back down.
Leaders from various anti-trans groups, such as Leeds ReSisters and Leeds Spinners amplified attacks against the event, stoking tension by urging members and followers to submit their simmering complaints to councillors, specifically Field.
— Claire’s Outrageous Thoughts (@claireOT) June 21, 2020
Women, we have a problem. Leeds City Council is promoting this event on its Facebook page. Of course it is an online event but aimed at children. pic.twitter.com/hyrkPecc1j— Leeds ReSisters (@LeedsReSisters) June 21, 2020
Mumnset users call for drag queen to be ‘crucified’ for wanting to read to children.
On Mumsnet, whose members have a track record of anti-LGBT+ campaigns, forum users decried the “woman-mocking pervert hour”, dubbing Field a “local hero” while calling on for users to write-in to her.
Users sourced images of Samuel at readings that occurred before lockdown measures were enforced by authorities, voicing concerns over “safeguarding” as users shared photographs of previous Story Hour events, often of Samuel smiling and interacting with fans.
Across the more than 150 messages on the board, some suggested Samuel be “crucified”, some dug-up photographs from his personal social media account and others shared the barbed emails they sent to Field.
Some users questioned Samuel’s drag name as “mocking” those with ADHD. Samuel stridently denied this, noting that he himself has ADHD and is a patron of two autistic charities.
Leeds City Council confirmed to PinkNews that the local authority had received “concerns” across the weekend which, as a result, forced officials to suspend the event.
When news broke that the event was cancelled, Mumsnet members alleged that Field, “was up most of the night putting a rocket up the people in charge.
“She’s also put in a [freedom of information] request and formal complaint asking for an immediate investigation,” the Mumsnet member claimed, with a screenshot of a Facebook comment from Field appeared to confirm this.
In the daytime, Sab Samuel rallies to raise money for trans charities. At night, he has nightmares of being murdered by Mumsnet users.
Samuel woke up Monday morning shaking. He had dreamt that someone broke in his house and threatened to stab him because of their views against him.
“It kinda scared me,” Samuel said, “the idea that someone could do that if they wanted to,” saying that he is now taking precautions to “conceal” where he lives following threats.
Samuel said that, from the very beginning of discussions in “early June”, Leeds City Council expressed a level of “caution” he had not encountered from other local authorities, such as Portsmouth or Manchester.
As the first drag queen in Europe to read stories to children in a nursery, Samuel expressed how Pride groups, community leaders and festival organisers regularly welcomed opportunities to collaborate with Samuel and his Rolodex of fellow drag performers.
Leeds City Council officials, Samuel said, asked to have a chat via video uplink app Zoom to discuss working together – other authorities had simply done a “simple phone call to discuss basic credentials”, he said.
The officials he was on a video call with were “very insecure about the fact it would be a drag queen reading stories to children”. Nevertheless, Samuel was given the green light by Leeds City Council, named one of the most inclusive employers in Britain by LGBT+ equality charity Stonewall earlier this year.
After being told over the phone that the Story Hour was pulled – “it was not up for discussion,” he said – ever resilient, Samuel held the Story Hour event on the organisation’s Facebook page and completely dedicated the hour to the LGBT+ community in Leeds.
He’s now rallying to raise funds for trans youth charity Mermaids and has vowed to climb 50 stories once £500 is raised and cycle 50 kilometres once £750 completely in drag.
A spokesperson for Leeds City Council said: “An online event entitled Drag Queen Storytime was scheduled to take place this week which was booked and hosted through Leeds Libraries.
“Similar events have been hosted both in Leeds and at other libraries around the country in the past.
“However, over the course of the weekend, we received a number of concerns about this event which needed further consideration.
“As it was being hosted in a new, online format and because these concerns were expressed shortly before it was due to take place, the decision was made to cancel this event so the service has the opportunity to properly consider the concerns which have been raised.
“Our libraries remain fully committed to hosting a programme of diverse and inclusive events and we will continue to discuss how best to do this alongside our visitors, guests and communities.”
PinkNews has contacted Mumsnet and Sarah Field for comment.
MyPinkNews members are invited to comment on articles to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Please familiarise yourself with our community guidelines to ensure that our community remains a safe and inclusive space for all.