People have called Freida Whales colourful, and the flyer made to protest her appearance in Quesnel was just as colourful.
The Observer was shown a vibrant, cartoonish brochure decrying how Freida Whales was a bad influence on children and ought not to be allowed to attend Pride Day events in this city on June 10. The email addresses of all city councillors were published on the back, with a line urging that messages be sent opposing the presence of Whales.
The flyer concentrates on Whales’ social media presence, which includes references the anonymous author claims to be “sexually vulgar” and judges the Whales actor’s private life saying their “extracurricular activities are shocking.” The flyer’s author takes special exception to a music video Whales created on a horror movie theme involving murder and cannibalism.
The flyer also accuses the mainstream media (The Observer is assumedly included in that description) of “celebrating” Whales.
It goes on to suggest that the actor who portrays Freida Whales works in a field involving children, and sometimes performs for children while in the Whales character, but that the Whales character traits should be considered incompatible with that.
“Are you comfortable having him at a family-friendly event? Do you want him in Quesnel?,” the flyer asks.
An investigation into the performances of Freida Whales quickly uncovers a long list of children’s events that were filmed and posted online, such as readings at libraries, craft demonstrations, songs, and other events. Of those seen, the character, while flamboyant, is only ever engaging with the kids using entertainment tropes, stories and themes that are age-appropriate and uncontroversial.
The same character also has content aimed at an adult audience, and it ranges from interviews to stage performance clips to original music-based videos, and more. Some of it has a dramatically dark theme with an obvious mood of satirical humour. It would not be appropriate for children, and were it television would come with a disclaimer. In fact, most of the original video content by Freida Whales is accompanied by a mature subject matter warning, and posted behind an age restriction wall.
The flyer is an outrage to the Quesnel Pride Society, the organization hosting Freida Whales at their Pride Day festivities.
Adding insult to the message depicted in the brochure is the fact Whales isn’t there for the children’s entertainment.
“We didn’t even hire Frieda for story time. She is going to be our MC at the 19+ after-party. Arrrggghh,” said Quesnel Pride Society president Alison Prentice. “The Quesnel Pride Society board of directors strongly condemns the distribution of hate flyers this weekend in Quesnel (Feb 11/12). These flyers were left on vehicles and distributed to businesses in town.”
Freida Whales took a more philosophical approach.
“I appreciate the compliment on my acting, but I am in fact not a cannibal or murderer. It’s funny how the magic of theatre works,” said Whales (actor’s name Tyson Cook). “I’d like to thank the person who was handing out flyers - thanks for advertising my arrival. I’m sorry to tell you I will not be doing a children’s event at this time.”
Whales did express interest in perhaps scheduling an event to entertain and engage children in Quesnel, as she has done in other communities.
“Freida Whales is a campy clown who just happens to be a queen. I do my best to create safe spaces wherever I swim,” Whales said. “For me, it’s a way for me to express my inner clown. Getting to show audiences all over that you can be who you wanna be and still have fun means a lot to me.”
While it is commonly assumed that all communities contain bigots and prejudizers, Prentice was still dismayed that someone would go to such levels to make someone feel unwelcome or even targeted.
“The flyers are filled with misinformation, and/or information that has been taken out of context and put into a more sinister context. The fact that these have been distributed anonymously is cowardly,” Prentice said. “RCMP are investigating, too. Over 60 vehicles had these flyers on them, and they were put in door mailboxes of multiple businesses in town.”
It’s a strong measure to take but freedom of association is one of our most fundamental rights.
“The mission of the Quesnel Pride Society is that we won’t stop until every queer child, youth, and adult feels safe in our community,” Prentice said. “Hate has no place in our community. We thank all citizens of Quesnel who continuously show us their support against these forms of unacceptable behaviours. Your messages of support and subsequent increase of new memberships with the Quesnel Pride Society help to create a safe space for all. Sign up to be a member today and help us end this hate.”
Whales added, with a wink, that, “Drag has always been political, like many forms of art. As drag is a part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, the rise in hate against the community has also been contributing to the controversy around drag. For me, I deal with controversy with humour and grace, all while being extremely humble.”
Read more: Pride flag raised in Quesnel for Pride Month