A drag queen-hosted event for families that planned to celebrate diversity has been cancelled in Goulburn due to the threats received by her and staff at the region’s council.
Rainbow Story Time with Betty Confetti had been scheduled to take place at the town’s library in June, but on Monday (15 May) Goulburn Mulwaree Council announced it had been cancelled.
“Over the course of the last week council staff have been subjected to direct and indirect intimidating behaviour, from members of the community,” council’s CEO Aaron Johansson said.
“As I am unable to guarantee the physical and psychosocial safety of council’s employees the event has been cancelled. Threats received have been referred to the relevant authorities.”
Speaking to Region, Confetti commented that, as her mother would always say, she was not angry, but disappointed.
“As the day’s gone on, I’ve been able to process a lot of things,” she said.
“I am genuinely sad about it because the premise of this family time was to show love, support and visibility.”
A performer from Bathurst who has lived in the Central West all her life, she said she knew that representation in public was “really quite hard to come by”.
“I’m sad I’m not able to be that shiny, glittery beacon … I’m not able to be that for some Goulburn residents, young and old. That’s what saddens me the most,” she said.
Confetti said the issue began on social media with a post that eventually got hundreds of comments, most of which were in favour of her story-time event, but a minority were from “bigotry-fuelled people” who called her “horrendous things” and made untrue accusations.
She said threats about council staff and herself had been forwarded to police. Region has contacted NSW Police for comment.
“It’s something that I have been able to overcome because it’s happened multiple times, and been able to process in a way that’s like, OK, this is just a setback,” she said.
For instance, she said she had once planned an event in Bathurst that did go ahead, despite the “horrendous religious death threats”.
“But obviously, when things escalated with threats against council staff, that’s where they drew the line,” she said.
Rainbow Story Time is an event that celebrates diversity and inclusion in the community, featuring stories, rhymes, songs and dancing.
An online booking website for the Goulburn event says it is suitable for children aged from three to eight as well as their families.
Confetti said it was beautiful that the library had wanted to host the event in the first place and the council had contacted her and apologised after the cancellation.
She wasn’t angry with the council and understood its reasons, and said she had received supportive messages from people in both Goulburn and Canberra.
“I’d just like to thank the people who have supported me, including my family, and the people who sent me beautiful messages to show their support,” she said.
When asked about her thoughts on the way forward, she said being present was important.
“Consistent visibility, so if this was something that happened every year or twice a year, and ingrain it within regional culture, I think that maybe some people would mellow out about it,” she said.
“But some people’s strong views will prevent them accepting anything that’s different.”
Confetti said she was happy to talk to people about why they did not think her event was appropriate, but would not tolerate threats of violence or untrue allegations.
“At the end of the day, if people don’t like it, then don’t show up!” she said.
A bingo event with Confetti for over 18s will still go ahead at Goulburn Library on 3 June.
“I’m going to try and make that event as big and fun as I can, instead of dwelling on the past,” she said.
Original Article published by Albert McKnight on About Regional.