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Update: Anti-gay protesters wave rainbow swastikas at Richmond drag queen storytime

Bryan Bone, AKA Miss Gina Tonic, told how two men waded through kids, knocking them over, to take photos of him reading a book

"I have never been more afraid for my life and the lives of kids and others."

Bryan Bone was describing the moment when two of the protesters, both men, waded through a crowd of kids in a park in Hamilton Monday afternoon, knocking some of them aside, seemingly in an attempt to get to him.

Prior to the incident, the protesters were seen waving placards with homophobic statements and a rainbow-coloured swastika.

Bone, an art and learning resource teacher at MacNeill Secondary, was performing at the time under his drag persona Miss Gina Tonic, for the annual Drag Queen Storytime outside Hamilton Community Centre, something he's been doing for 10 years in B.C. (four years in Richmond).

The event was supposed to be a joyful kick-off to Richmond's Pride Week but was marred by the attendance of people protesting in what Bone could only describe as an "absolutely shocking and intimidating" atmosphere.

He recalled to the Richmond News how two of the men started to walk towards him, through the kids, as he was still reading.

"Some kids were knocked, one guy kept walking through the crowd of kids who were seated in front of me," said Bone, adding that there were young toddlers in the crowd.

"I don't even remember reading the stories. I was just on autopilot, thinking what to do next in case it got violent."

Bone decided to continue reading as the protesters took photos of him and yelled, but the final straw was when he noticed the rowdy group taking photos of the children.

"At one point I knew it wasn't going to de-escalate so I told the kids it was going to be my last book."

An RCMP officer, who was there to support the event, stepped in to help calm the situation down, along with some other adults there, which included Coun. Michael Wolfe, a longtime friend of Bone.

But the scary incident didn't end with Bone's last story.

In order to protect Bone and the children, Bone's parents, partner, staff, and the Mountie formed a "human shield."

Bone and his partner then had to be escorted by the on-duty officer to his car to make sure he "was not being followed."

He told how many of the protesters who heckled him showed up to the event carrying "intimidating, graphic, and awful signs about fascism...and Nazi stuff."

Wolfe tweeted how he was at the event with his daughter and how he had to stand up to the protesters.

"The RCMP responded and, along with my neighbours, the event concluded safely. The pride presenter has been a friend of mine for nearly 30 years. Glad to be there to support him in person," wrote Wolfe.

Bone told how he has been teaching in Richmond for "quite a long time, and I've never experienced anything like this before."

What concerned Bone the most was the safety of the kids, his family and everyone at the event.

When asked if he will be performing for his other events this week, it was a for sure yes.

"I'm just, you know, so worried about the safety of everyone. And at the same time, to not do these events is worse. Growing up gay in Richmond when I had nothing was crippling as a teen, it was awful."

Cpl. Ian Henderson, spokesperson with the Richmond RCMP, confirmed the on-site officer stepped in to de-escalate the situation when protesters and event participants began to interact.

Eventually, the protesters left "without further incident."

"This matter is being treated as a hate-motivated incident," said Henderson.

"However, as there was no criminal offence committed, charges are not being considered at this time."

Bone has reported the incident to the Ministry of Education, the Richmond School Board and the union.

He highlighted to the South Arm Community Centre that security is "most paramount" for his other public show this week.

"This is a minor setback at one event, and we're just gonna have to work really hard to ensure that future events have better safety and security. I hope that the City of Richmond doesn't let this incident you know, prevent them from doing future events."