Drag Queen Story Hour founder pulled from festival over safety fears after Tory MP’s Facebook post

Tory MP Sara Brticliffe on the left and drag queen Aida H Dee on the right

Drag Queen Story Hour founder Aida H Dee has been dropped from a literary festival’s line-up due to threats of protests and complaints online.

The Civic Arts Centre and Theatre, a registered charity, is set to host Off the Shelf, a literary festival in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire on Saturday (11 March).

The festival was originally meant to include a reading by Dee, a children’s author and founder of Drag Queen Story Hour in the UK, but organisers have taken the decision to drop her appearance amid mounting criticism.

According to the Civic Arts Centre, the risk of public disturbance was extremely high and the safety of Aida H Dee herself was also a reason for the cancellation.

“We have not taken this lightly as we truly believe it would have been a joyous event for anyone who attended her story time,” a Civic Arts Centre spokesperson told PinkNews.

“Over the [past] couple of weeks, due to negative social media and increased risk of public disturbance, we have taken the very difficult decision to cancel Aida’s performance at the Off the Shelf event.”

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The statement went on to highlight that a now-deleted Facebook post by local Tory MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden, Sara Britcliffe, in which she shared a Daily Mail article, resulted in more people threatening to both disrupt the festival and threatening Aida H Dee’s safety, according to the Civic Arts Centre.

The article described Aida reading children’s books to infants as “inappropriate indoctrination” and compared her social media posts to that of pedophiles.

Screenshot Sara Britcliffe
MP Sara Britcliffe said press articles had convinced her that Story Hour was not appropriate. (Supplied).

In her Facebook post, Britcliffe said: “This is a wholly inappropriate move and I have urged them to cancel it.” The original post saw many people flock to defend Drag Queen Story Hour before it was deleted.

The theatre spokesperson continued: “Following a social media post from MP Sara Britcliffe, where a six month old article from the Daily Mail, which has been proven to contain lies and misrepresented the story time, had generated anger and threats to demonstrate or protest, it was felt that for the safety of Aida, the attendees at the festival and the Civic Arts Centre team, we had no choice but to cancel her appearance.”

‘Is it the job of an MP to incite hate?’

Aida H Dee, who is the patron of Autistic Inclusive Meets, told PinkNews she’d received wrongful accusations of being a pedophile, with some even calling for her to be shot, as a result of the Daily Mail article.

“This hate is on [Sara Britcliffe], and Drag Queen Story Hour UK are seeking legal advice on how to proceed,” a spokesperson from Drag Queen Story Hour told PinkNews.

Commenting on the Tory MP circulating the six-month-old Daily Mail article, Drag Queen Story Hour UK said: “We would like to ask Sara Britcliffe if it is the job of an MP to incite hate, and if she understands the damage she has done to her own local LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ youth.”

When asked why it was necessary to post the message to her social media channels, Britcliffe told PinkNews that parents had raised an issue about the reading taking place.

“Residents have drawn my attention to press articles which raised concerns about the specific act,” she said. “In circumstances such as this, safeguarding comes first and I would always take a precautionary approach.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I did not raise these concerns, particularly when parents have been in contact with me regarding this.”

PinkNews asked Sara Britcliffe to respond to Drag Queen Story Hour’s criticism that circulating the Daily Mail article was inciting hate but she has as yet declined.

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