Despite the (much needed) rain, hundreds of LGBTQ+ folks and our allies attended the June 3rd Come Together '23, a peaceful rally to support Drag Me to Dinner at the Kings Arms Pub in Kentville, after Berwick resident Kasey Kenneally posted inflammatory comments online, organized a protest, and petitioned (unsuccessfully) to have the all ages drag event changed to 18+ (which would have shut it down).
The protest group amounted to 12 people, including failed PPC candidate Scott Spidle and his bodyguard. They stood silently across Main Street from the pub with their signs, having stated that they would not engage the supporters, after Kenneally falsely claimed “They WILL try to incite violence. They WILL try to make us look like a hateful, anti-LGBT group. We can't fuel their fire.”
Local police were present but appeared much more focused on monitoring the protest group than the rally attendees.
In contrast, the rally outside the pub was filled music, dancing, and pride flags of all colours. Support was overwhelmingly positive, including dozens of cars driving past honking their horns, many waving pride flags from their windows, Between 4:00 and 4:30, families began to arrive for the show as attendees cheered and welcomed them. Inside the crowded pub, people enjoyed great food and drink as pub owner Joey Murphy circulated among the tables, talking to people and thanking them for coming out to support his business.
On Saturday, June 3, there will be a peaceful support rally outside the King's Arms Pub, where a family drag event, Drag Me To Family Dinner is planned. Organizers are quick to call this a support rally, and specifically not a counterprotest.
The dinner event invitation reads: "Come celebrate Pride month with the whole family! bring the kids for dinner while we entertain them! Performances, sing-a-longs, and stories." The event was sold out as of mid-May.
A protest of the dinner event is being organized by Berwick resident, Kasey Kenneally who has also created a petition, promoted on the Facebook group Valley Resistance, to have the event changed to 18+. Kenneally did not get a lot of support from a review of the venue posted on Facebook, demanding much the same thing.
Kenneally has also posted a "Call to arms" which Halifax activist Curtis Cartmill reported to the Kentville police, "I just wanted to know, given that Kentville is the jurisdiction of the Kentville Police: (a) if you had been notified of it, and (b) are looking into the threats that are being made to the entertainers and performers for that day?" They responded, "We are aware of the posts and have an ongoing file for the event."
Performer Queera Bang says, "We need to be building a wall of love and acceptance to block the hate, drown out the hate! Now is the time to unite."
Niko Steenken of Annapolis Valley Pride says: "We will be there to support the Wolfville Pride Organization and the producers of the event."
I support all members of my community... with the exception of anyone who shares hate and misinformation. -- pub owner Joey Murphy
Owner of the venue Joey Murphy has issued the statement: "I support inclusivity and diversity in my community. I respect and support everyone to make choices and to live their own lives. I support all members of my community... with the exception of anyone who shares hate and misinformation."
The event indoors is sold out, but there will be another event outdoors. Murphy says: "Keep an eye on the facebook event [link below] as we will be continuously updating it. This will be a family oriented event and alcohol will not be sold outside." The Facebook event, entitled Come Together '23 reads, "Inviting all Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, Jokers and all other royalty for an awesome afternoon in the Kings Garden. There will be live music and other entertainment outside at our side patio."
The organizer gives specifics for attending the event: "Bring your flags, banners, bubbles, noise makers and open hearts, and don't forget your brightest pride gear. We will drown this hate out with love and show these bigots and fearmongers what community really means! Hate will not win!"