Drag queen storyteller says readings ‘help young people discover their true selves’ | Drag

A drag queen whose storytelling sessions for children sparked rival protests at the weekend has defended the event as a way to help young people discover their true selves.

Sab Samuel, whose drag name is Aida H Dee, hosted three readings of the UK’s Drag Queen Story Hour at Tate Britain in London on Saturday, while around 30 protesters from far-right group Patriotic Alternative gathered outside chanting “leave the children us quietly”.

They faced a similar number of counter-protesters led by the campaign group Stand Up to Racism.

Right-wing protesters held signs that read: “No drag for kids!” Supporters of the event held signs reading: “Don’t let the far right divide us” and “Trans rights now”.

The Metropolitan Police arrested one person at the demonstration on suspicion of making a racially offensive comment to a police officer.

No injuries were reported and the storytelling sessions continued without interruption.

Far-right protesters outside Tate Britain clash with counter-protesters gathered in solidarity with LGBTQ+ rights
Far-right protesters outside Tate Britain clash with counter-protesters gathered in solidarity with LGBTQ+ rights. Photo: Vuk Valcic/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Speaking to TalkTV’s Trisha Goddard on Sunday, Samuel said children’s drag readings were “an important issue” but had been “blown completely out of proportion” by protesters.

He said his readings can act as a “catalyst” for children to start “living their true selves”. He said they could help save children from enduring the “horrendous mental health battle” he went through growing up.

Samuel, who is also a children’s author, said young people have approached him at events about coming out as gay and asking for advice on whether to tell their parents.

“Years later, they came out and now have a partner and are perfectly happy,” she said.

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“And the catalyst for them to live their true selves was to come on Drag Queen Story Hour. That’s what Drag Queen Story Hour is all about.”

Samuel – whose stage name, Aida H Dee, is inspired by his diagnosis of autism and ADHD – added: “All I want to do is be the role model I wish I had when I was five.

“If I had been told that gay is a good word and that gay is fine, I wouldn’t have gone through the horrible mental health battle and the somewhat loathing that I had to go through to get to where I am now. where I don’t just tolerate myself, I love myself.”

Samuel said that as a child he looked up to “powerful women like Madonna and Lady Gaga”.

She added: “Femininity isn’t just something to be tolerated, just like LGBTQ, we want to embrace it, it’s great – why wouldn’t we?”

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