Kelowna’s self-proclaimed “Queen of Controversy” was given the award of Most Courageous Queen at the Quesnel Pride celebration, in recognition of the harassment that they have faced over the past year.
Drag Queen Freida Whales surged in popularity outside of the drag scene after a small, but vocal group of people objected to their 2022 Canada Day main stage performance in Kelowna. Social media posts circulated online, calling for Whales’ show to be cancelled, alleging that their flamboyant show is harmful to children. Whales said that July 1 will mark their 1 year ‘harass-iversary’
Then, Whales made a larger splash in January 2023, after their drag story-time event at the Okanagan Regional Library became the topic of heated online debate.
The event, where Whales read a children’s book and led songs to a room full of families, was protested and an online petition was circulated to have it cancelled.
In March 2023, an anonymous person in Quesnel created and distributed brochures alleging that Whales is a bad influence on children and should not be allowed to attend Pride Day celebrations in June, where Whales was scheduled to perform at an adults-only event.
Whales continues to receive online harassment and hate, again from a small, but vocal group of people.
Then in May 2023, Whales decided to “make lemonade out of very, very sour lemons,” and used their newfound online popularity to raise money for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in the Okanagan.
Whales created a ‘Queen of Controversy’ pin-on button and donates all proceeds to This Space Belongs to You, which is a mental health service that provides safe, inclusive and anti-oppressive spaces and resources, including counselling, for youth in the Okanagan.
“I decided to turn their anger and hate into love,” said Whales.
At the Pride celebration in Quesnel, Whales was shocked when they were called onto the stage for an unexpected award. In front of a cheering crowd, Whales was given the trophy for Most Courageous Queen.
“It filled by Pride bucket for the year,” said Whales.
“I sometimes don’t see or forget that while I’m having so much fun, that I am making a difference in some people’s lives.”
Whales said that the boost of positivity and love will carry them for another year of performances and activism.
“I’m definitely not stopping anytime soon… They’re still not done attacking me.”
A list of future events being hosted by Whales, including a drag workshop for youth, is available at freidawhales.com.