Montreal Saint-Laurent borough gives drag queen storytime green light weeks after nixing event

Following weeks of controversy after cancelling a drag queen storytime event for children, Montreal’s Saint-Laurent borough reversed its decision and announced the event hosted by drag queen Barbada De Barbades will go ahead as scheduled. 

In a statement Monday evening, the administration said the borough council met with Sébastien Potvin, who performs as Barbada. The council confirmed that her story hour will be held as planned in November at two local libraries.

“We’re pleased to have had the opportunity to get together with Barbada for a discussion that was enriching for everyone,” said Saint-Laurent borough Mayor Alan DeSousa in the statement. 

“Saint-Laurent Council will always encourage and respect all forms of art and creativity,” he said. 

The announcement coincides with the start of Pride Week in Montreal.

The borough had initially pulled the plug on the event after the city of Dorval received complaints when it scheduled an event featuring Barbada in June.

Last month, DeSousa also said council had concerns about potentially sensitive subjects that would be discussed at Barbada’s storytime event. He had said he and other elected officials would meet with Barbada to ask about the content of her performance. 

The invitation to meet came the day after an online petition was launched demanding the story hour be reinstated.

In the same statement from the borough Monday, Barbada said she’s “delighted” to be able to offer storytime in Saint-Laurent this fall.

“I have been leading the storytime activity since 2016 and it has proven its worth,” she said. Barbada said the main objective is to give children a taste for reading while also discovering their differences. 

Drag queen Barbada stars in Barbada, a 10-minute series on children’s music broadcast on ICI (Radio-Canada)

When Barbada first found out that her event had been cancelled, she said she was surprised as she stars in a kids’ TV show. But she’d been confident that borough councillors would allow the event to go ahead, once they realized it is age-appropriate with a positive message.

She said she is “happy to have had the opportunity to talk to Saint-Laurent Council freely and with mutual respect.” 

“It’s important to answer questions in order to avoid any and all misunderstandings,” she said.

The story hour will take place Nov. 5 at 10:30 a.m. at the Bibliothèque du Vieux-Saint-Laurent and at 2 p.m. at the Bibliothèque du Boisé. 

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