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Supporters greatly outnumber protesters at drag storytime event at Ottawa's NAC

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A large group of Ottawa residents came out Wednesday to support a drag storytime event at the National Arts Centre.

The event, part of Capital Pride's Winterlude programming, featured stories read by drag performers China Doll and Cyril Cinder, with music by Monkey Rock Music.

Much like other drag events, protesters were anticipated. A few dozen protesters holding signs with Bible verses turned out to oppose the event, but more than 200 supporters outnumbered them. More than a dozen police officers were on scene to keep the peace between the two sides.

Among the supporters was Ottawa Centre New Democrat MPP Joel Harden and Ottawa city councillor Ariel Troster, who said she was able to join the crowd of supporters after Wednesday's city council meeting ended.

"We believe everybody should be loved for who they are, and we hope those who came to protest recognize this is about acceptance and they should join us," Harden said.

Ottawa police confirm four people were arrested but all were released at the scene. No criminal charges were laid.

Josh Alexander, a protester whose brother was among those arrested told CTV News he was opposed to what he perceived was drag's sexual nature. 

"They have kids around drag and that's just wrong," he said. "It's a sexual thing. Drag's alaways been sexual until we recently politicized it."

But supporters noted there was nothing harmful to be found.

Executive director of Capital Pride Toby Whitfield said the turnout showed that Ottawa is an inclusive community.

"They try and use pride programming as a way to try and divide comunities and the message today is it's not going to work," Whitfield said. "Our community is going to come out and support, we're going to stand up against hate, against bigotry and send a message of love and inclusion."

Cyril Cinder later thanked the crowd for their support.

--With files from CTV's Jeremie Charron.

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