'Love always wins.' What happened when protestors took on drag story time.

Hosted by drag queen Timberlina and held once a month at Newcastle Library, Rainbow Storytime is 30 glorious minutes of singing, dancing and short stories to celebrate inclusivity, kindness and the meaning of family in all its many forms.

As a Newcastle local, I've been going to Timberlina's events for years, so I was shocked to hear that a group of residents were planning to hold a protest last weekend because they believed Timberlina was 'grooming children for abuse'.

"I have been hosting Rainbow Storytime for almost three years," Tim (who performs as Timberlina) told Mamamia.

"And my main purpose is to educate about diversity and inclusion. We talk about families that look different and how to respond with kindness. 

"At the pub I perform adult content. But at the library I am a kid's entertainer. Many entertainers do different kinds of shows for different kinds of audiences."

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In the lead up to last weekend's planned protest, Tim met with the library and local council staff to discuss safety concerns. 

"We had to plan for me to arrive and then leave through a different entrance to the general public and while I wanted to stay strong for my community, it was scary. I broke down behind closed doors."


Born in Dubbo, NSW and later raised in Newcastle, proud First Nations man Tim says he has always had a supportive family who loved him and respected his choices.

"I was called names at school but overall I was lucky. I know other kids are not so lucky however and that's why I wanted to do Rainbow Storytime in the first place – to create a safe space where kids and their families feel supported and loved."

Tim says that he was made aware of an online protest group on Facebook just 10 days before last weekend's event.

"I'm not sure exactly who this group are but they seem to be against government control and vaccines. Which is interesting because no one is forcing anyone to coming to Rainbow Storytime!"

After Tim (and Timberlina's) safety plan was finalised and additional security promised, Rainbow Storytime went ahead and what happened next was a wonderful surprise for everyone – especially Tim.


"I turned up on Saturday morning full of mixed emotions. I was angry and sad and I kept thinking about my face as Timberlina being 'out there' and that I might get attacked while just getting a coffee.

"But then I saw how many people kept arriving to support me and I was overwhelmed. I was proud of myself for staying strong, but also felt so much joy thanks to my local community."

At the front of Newcastle library, supporters were draped in rainbow flags and many covered in sparkles or glitter face paint. Music played while kids of all ages were milling about, drawing with rainbow chalk on the ground or blowing bubbles. 

Timberlina waves to supporters before story time. Image: Supplied 


"It was such a beautiful atmosphere, and it felt like love had won over fear," Tim said of last week's huge crowd.

While my boys are now (sadly) too old for this fabulous Saturday morning tradition, I have always loved Rainbow Storytime and I went along to support Timberlina and the wider community. 

It was heartening to see hundreds of other people had the same idea, and I could barely find a spot on the carpet once inside the sold out event.

Timberlina read stories with themes about how kids can wear anything they choose, and play with any toys they like, and we all danced and sang along to Dance Monkey

After a few curious questions from four years olds about her hair and sparkly shoes, families gradually filed out and Timberlina was greeted like a rockstar when she stepped outside to say 'thank you' and wave at the crowd.


The single car load of protestors had left early to a rousing cheer.

Rainbow storytime fun. Image: Supplied.

Fellow mum-of-two Brie told me how important she felt Rainbow Storytime is for her, her wife and her two kids.

"I felt outraged when I read about the planned protests at such a safe and inclusive event," Brie said.

"Our kids always have a ball at Rainbow Storytime but the news of the protests made me reflect on how I explain to my kids as they get older that some people don't think our family is 'normal'."


Another mum, Kasie, who came with her wife, Bianca, and their three kids, said she felt proud to see so much community support for Timberlina and Rainbow Storytime.

"My kids don't know any different as we have seen Timberlina perform so many times," Kasie said.

"We love the friendly atmosphere and think it is important for kids from all backgrounds to hear stories about diversity. My son is in year 2 at school and he is already being asked about having 'two mums'. Coming to Rainbow Storytime helps him know how to react to these type of questions and that it's okay to be different.

"Today was powerful, and it was amazing to see so much support from the community. I told the kids, 'love always wins out'."

After so much community love and support for Timberlina and Rainbow Storytime, Tim says the sessions won't be stopping anytime soon.

"Representation matters. Events like this matter to kids, families and our community. These protesters can threaten and try to scare us but ultimately, no one can dampen my sparkle."

"We're queer and we're here and we're not going anywhere!"

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Family Writer. For links to her articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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