Drag queen at centre of Tate Britain protests hopes to be children's 'role model'

A drag queen whose storytelling event for families sparked angry protests has revealed his ambition to be the role model he never had as a child.

Demonstrators clashed over award-winning author Aida H Dee hosting three story-time sessions at Tate Britain on Saturday.

Nationalist organisation, Patriotic Alternative, is understood to have led around 30 protesters, coming face to face with a similar number of counter-protesters fronted by campaign group, Stand Up to Racism.

Sab Samuel - who performs as the drag artist - said the day was "awesome" with "no disruptions" to the readings.

A handful of people gained access to the building in Millbank, but had no impact on the events, held to mark LGBT+ History Month.

On Sunday, Samuel said the drag readings for children were an important topic but had been "completely blown out of proportion" by protesters.

Speaking to TalkTV presenter Trisha Goddard, Samuel revealed how he "hated himself" while growing up - because he believed being gay was negative.

"All I want to do is be the role model that I wish I had when I was five years old," he said.

"If I was told that gay was a good word and gay is fine, I wouldn't have gone through the horrendous mental health battle and somewhat self-loathing that I had to go through to get to the point I'm at now, where I don't just tolerate myself, I love myself."

Samuel hopes his readings can serve as a "catalyst" for children to begin "living their true selves", and save them from the "horrendous mental health battle" he endured growing up.

"I didn't have a single LGBTQ role model, like every gay man out there," he added.

He instead looked up to powerful women including Madonna and Lady Gaga.

He continued: "Why are they surprised that we are now sat here embracing femininity with drag?

"Femininity is not just something to be tolerated, just like LGBTQ, we want to embrace it, it's fabulous, why wouldn't we?"

Young people have approached the drag artist at events to ask for advice on coming out as gay to their parents.

"Years later, they've come out and they've now got a partner and they're completely happy," he added.

Protesters against the readings held banners saying "No drag for kids" and "Leave our kids alone!".

Counter-protesters waved placards saying "Don't let the far right divide us" and "trans rights now".

Stand Up To Racism tweeted on Saturday: "What are you afraid of it's just wigs and makeup."

However critics insisted children "do not belong" at drag shows.

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One protester named as Lance O'Connor, 53, has been charged with assault on an emergency worker, obstruction of a police officer and two homophobic aggravated public order offences.

The 53-year-old, from Plaistow, east London, is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday.

The storytelling events were organised by Drag Queen Story Hour UK, which now has multiple performers based across Britain performing at schools, festivals, museums, conventions.

Their aim is to "show the world that being different is not a bad thing".

"By providing imaginative role models for children to look up to, we can change the world book by book!", their website says.

Aida H Dee, described as an "ADHD, neurodivergent, queer hero of literature, theatre, and children's entertainment", is the first drag artist in Europe to read stories to children in a nursery, according to the Tate Britain website.