Alliance leader Naomi Long speaks up in defence of drag performers reading transgender-themed books to children

The leader of the Alliance Party has today spoken up in defence of drag performers reading books about transgenderism to children.

Naomi Long, speaking on Radio Ulster, was commenting in the wake of objections to one such ‘drag queen storytime’ event at Belfast’s MAC theatre last Saturday.

At the event, a man called Matt Cavan had appeared as his drag persona Cherrie Ontop.

Flanked by teddy-bears and clad in a rainbow-coloured dress, he read from what he described as a series of “LGBTQ+-themed books”.

Matt Cavan/Cherrie Ontop during the event at The MAC theatre on Saturday

Photographs show children who appear to be aged several months upwards at the event.

About half a dozen people protested outside at the time, and Mr Cavan has since said that he had faced online threats and intimidation – though will not be deterred from hosting more such readings.

Today Mrs Long condemned such threats, and described the event as having been “an artistic performance in a theatre”.

She said that “some of the messages that’ve been played out to the public and some of the attitudes on display are really hate-filled and homophobic and it’s very, very distressing”.

She also said that “we’ve grown up as a nation with panto” and that men dressing as women is “neither novel nor new” – pointing to examples including Dame Edna Everage.

However the man behind the Dame Edna persona, Australian comic Barry Humphries, has drawn a sharp distinction between his performances and transgenderism, saying in 2018 that the latter is “pretty evil when it’s preached to children by crazy teachers”.

The number of children declaring themselves to be either “transgender” (ie, the opposite gender to the one they were born) or “non-binary” (one of scores of hitherto-unknown genders which are neither male nor female) has rocketed in recent years, with some of those children being put on courses of hormones and on pathways towards surgery.

For instance, The Times reported this year that “since 2010, the number of teenage girls referred to the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service has increased by 5,000%”.


In all the coverage on the MAC event, virtually none has included details of the content presented to the children.

The News Letter has looked up at least some of the books which were pictured at the MAC event.

They include ‘I Am NOT A Prince!’ by Rachel Davis and Beatrix Hatcher, about a frog called Hopp who does not want to grow up to be a prince.

Hopp is banished by his peers, but embarks on a magical adventure.

Finally he finds a rainbow-coloured gate and a rainbow-coloured lizard wizard.

Hopp cries: “I want to be myself with pride!”

The rainbow wizard casts a spell, and the book ends with Hopp returning home in a dress and tiara, declaring: “I am myself! I’ve become a frog PRINCESS!”

Another of the books was ‘Marvellous Doctors for Magical Creatures’ by Jodie Lancet-Grant and Lydia Corry.

It is about a small girl who has two fathers.

They are both doctors, and she likes to help them out.

She tries to diagnose an unhappy unicorn called Glitterbug who doesn’t fit in with other unicorns who like parties and the colour pink.

Glitterbug then frolics in a storm and becomes covered with mud, losing the pink stars on her coat and her pink-coloured hair, which turns black, making her happy.

“It’s been trying to fit in that’s been giving Glitterbug tummy trouble,” the characters decide.

“I think it will go away if she just tries to be herself.”

A third book at the event was ‘My Shadow Is Pink’ by Scott Stuart.

The book begins with a pre-school boy describing how he casts a pink-coloured shadow, and how that shadow is wearing a dress.

After a while a brutish-looking father arrives and says of the child’s shadow: “It will turn blue one of these days. Don’t worry. This is just a phase.”

The boy goes on to put on a dress for real, and his father’s attitude changes; he tells his son that his pink shadow represents his “inner-most you”.

He tells the boy he should wear a dress to school, and that if someone doesn’t like it then “they are the fool”.