Drag Race alumni speak out against Drag Story Time criticism

RuPaul's Drag Race queens have called out criticism towards Drag Story Time events and spoke about variety within the art form.

Laila McQueen with young fans at DragCon UK, she has recently spoken about Drag Story Time

RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni voiced their support for Drag Story Time events, which have faced various degrees of resistance and criticism as they grow in popularity

Queens have spoken about the diversity of drag as an art form and what it means for children to be included. During the first DragCon UK, there were many young people and families with children who travelled to the event. Gothy Kendall said, “A lot of kids identify with dressing up, with exploring gender and sexuality. To see their families supporting them means the world.”

The art and act of drag can be a powerfully informative experience, inspiring others to be confident in how they express themselves. Jodie Harsh spoke out against Drag Story Time critics, “It’s not going to ‘turn’ kids any certain way. It’s just a lovely, harmless cultural moment, and luckily the parents here are open-minded and cool about allowing their children to appreciate the art form.”

Drag Story Time has been met with backlash from various groups and individuals as being “inappropriate” for children. In April last year, Glitter Hole’s children event was cancelled due to safety risks, however, the DLR Libraries worded it as a review on “age appropriateness”. 

View this post on Instagram

It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce that our upcoming Drag Story Time event has been cancelled by @libraries.dlr We were contacted by DLR last month and asked to put on one of our drag storytelling performances to celebrate Pride and I wasn’t aware that it had been announced by them yet. Over the weekend we have been inundated with extremely violent homophobia from a frighteningly large group of bigots who believe that a few drag queens reading books to children amounts to child abuse. The library decided that the event was a safety risk, which we accepted given the scale and gravity of the vitriol that was being spewed on twitter. However, the statement issued by DLR last night cites “age appropriateness” as their reason for cancellation. The implication here is that the content of our drag shows for adults has deemed us inappropriate children’s storytellers. There is no mention in this statement of the safety concerns for the performers and audience of the event due to the ongoing abuse we’re receiving online. It seems like the most despicably archaic homophobia to me that DLR have labelled the queer people the risk in this scenario. The irony is that we were booked for Pride and yet after having hate speech directed at us all weekend, DLR have responded to that by deciding that we are incapable of providing an age appropriate family event. We have performed drag story time three times now and the response has always been entirely positive. We believe in the importance of this event and are determined to continue presenting it.

A post shared by Glitter HOLE (@glitter_hole) on

A spokesperson from Glitter Hole stated, “The library decided that the event was a safety risk, which we accepted given the scale and gravity of the vitriol that was being spewed on Twitter. However, the statement issued by DLR last night cites ‘age appropriateness’ as their reason for cancellation. The implication here is that the content of our drag shows for adults has deemed us inappropriate children’s storytellers.”

Earlier this year, two Drag Story Time performers were confronted by a group yelling “Drag queens are not for kids” at a Brisbane Library. Speaking to PinkNews, Sum Ting Wong said, “It’s like saying kids shouldn’t be allowed to listen to Lady Gaga. It’s an expression, it’s art.”

Drag Race season 8 contestant Laila McQueen summarised the issues surrounding Drag Story Time events, “I think there’s a wide variety of appropriate drag, inappropriate drag, political drag, fun drag and educational drag, and I think there is a part in that spectrum that is appropriate for younger kids. There’s a plethora of children here [at DragCon]… it’s situational. But I don’t think drag is ‘not for’ anyone.”

In 2018, Framewerk Gallery, facilitators of the Drag Queen Story Time events, made a public appeal for support after online backlash. They posted on Facebook, “To anyone who attended our Drag Queen Storytime in July, or supporters of the event. We need your help. The Gallery and Performers have been under repeated attack from hate-speak, derision and actual call for boycott. We are strong. We can handle that.”

Drag has always fostered a sense of community, bringing people together through wonder and art. The imagination and craftsmanship of queens and kings resonate with people, no matter their age. Katie, aged 15, described drag to PinkNews as “a way for people to express themselves and have fun with what they’re doing” and to “enjoy their lives the way they want to.”

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBT+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBT+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBT+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.