There were times long ago when I eagerly participated in events like Wigstock and danced on the tables at The Abbey in West Hollywood on Drag Queen night. (And yes, you get thrown out for that.) But as a mom, these things have admittedly faded from my list of life priorities. So I was excited to learn that now, at the New York Public Library, I can take my child to…Drag Queen Story Hour.
Wait, did I get that right?
Yes. Yes, I did.
It’s just what you think. Drag queens. Reading. To kids.
How fun is that?
This is not just a gimmick; in fact, the idea is quite profound, which would account for its growing popularity as it expands from its original home in San Francisco.
Founder Michelle Tea wants to capture the imagination and playfulness of childhood, which includes plenty of dress-up, of course. They want to give kids a chance to interact with positive and unabashedly queer role models, as they put it. And, help promote literacy too. Which is just what performers like Panda Dulce (above), Honey Mahogany, and Black Benatar are doing.
I mean, if you were a kid, wouldn’t you be 10 times more excited to hear a story from someone in a wild costume, whether it’s Cinderella or Lil Miss Hot Mess?
Black Mahogany reading to kids in San Francisco. Photo: RADAR Productions
Now, obviously Drag Queen Story Hour is not for every family — which is probably why right now it’s just in San Francisco, LA, and New York, where we’re used to seeing all kinds of people on the street and in our lives every day.
As for me, I happen to love it.
The way I see it, drag queens can teach all our children to see outside the box, to color outside the lines, and to find comfort in learning to be him or herself. Whatever that means.
It’s actually really personal to me.
As a child, I was bullied. My sister was bullied. I saw friends be bullied. At last, bullying is finally being addressed on a grand scale with campaigns like the NOH8 Campaign and The Bully Project, to teach children and adults to be kind to one another, and I see the Drag Queen Story Hour as an extension of those initiatives.
People are different, and that’s one of the many things that makes us great.
To me, drag queens represent originality, creativity, acceptance, bravery, confidence, love. They’re the essence of fierce, fabulous, and fun. When I think of things I want for my daughter, these are so many of the same adjectives that come to mind.
That, and a really great reader.
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