Anti-drag bigots promised 300 protestors at Edinburgh Fringe – only eight turned up 

Drag Queen Story Hour host Aida H Dee and protesters at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023

Anti-drag bigots claimed more than 300 people were going to turn up to protest Drag Queen Story Hour at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – a number that appeared woefully over-promised when just eight people turned up. 

The Drag Queen Story Hour theatrical experience is set to have a three-week run at the world-famous arts and culture festival in Scotland’s capital, with Aida H Dee performing a family-friendly show which takes children on a “journey through a magical world of colourful characters”. 

Prior to the first show going ahead on Thursday (3 August), posters advertising the event were defaced with stickers and anti-drag campaigners promised that a large rally in opposition would take place.

Discussions on social media amongst protesters suggested around 300 people were planning to protest the show. On the day, however, just eight people turned up. 

This is not the first time Drag Queen Story Hour has been at the centre of bigots’ ire, with Aida H Dee facing death threats, previous protests and has had events cancelled for reading stories to children. 

Aida H Dee, the founder of Drag Queen Story Hour, has a three week show at the Edinburgh Fringe (George Tyler Photography)

Aida H Dee, the founder of Drag Queen Story Hour UK, said in a statement following the tiny protest: “Today, we didn’t just have a show; we threw a party! And oh, what an attendance! 

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“Sure, we had a small band of protestors, but in the face of them, we had a rainbow sea of supporters. 

“My community – the LGBTQ community – we came out to show Edinburgh that we will not back down to fascism. 

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“It proves that love and acceptance aren’t just words; they’re a movement that’s growing by the day. 

“Edinburgh is just as gay as any other place in the world!”

Pictures taken by the drag queen and shared on her social media accounts show the protestors behind a metal barrier holding megaphones and signs which read “groom dogs not kids” and “drag is for adults not children”. 

In response to the protest, counter-protesters also came out in force and waved trans and Pride flags and held posters which read: “Fight for LGBT+ liberation. Pride is a protest.” 

Supporters came out to counter-protest the anti-drag bigots (DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR UK)

Prior to the first show, Aida H Dee spoke with PinkNews about the posters being defaced and the planned protest, saying such backlash was “heartbreaking” but that she would not back down. 

“What I say, to these people, is let the protests come. Let them come, let them cover my posters up if that’s what they feel they need to do but I’m not going anywhere. 

“This show will go up and continue to be proud, fabulous, defiant torch bearer of diversity and love.”

A spokesperson for Assembly Festival, which is presenting the show, said on Tuesday (1 August): “Assembly Festival takes the safety of its audiences, staff, and performers very seriously and works closely with the local authority and other governing bodies to ensure that safeguarding processes are closely followed.

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“We are in constant communication with key stakeholders to ensure the safety and success of Drag Queen Story Hour’s season at Assembly Festival. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is built upon the principles of open access and freedom of expression, and the Assembly Festival programme is carefully curated in the spirit of these values.”

They added: “Assembly has presented a popular and varied programme at the Fringe for over 40 years and offers a wide choice of family friendly entertainment.  

“We respect the right of audiences to make their own individual choice when booking tickets, and hope that there is something in our programme for all to enjoy.”

Drag Queen Story Hour at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will take place between 3 and 27 August at Assembly Roxy.

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