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.”
@monetxchange @thatonequeen thank you for both being so brilliant and lovely with Laila at #DragConUK last weekend.
She loved meeting you both ♥️♥️
(And Monet was nothing but delightful in case anyone has heard otherwise!!!) pic.twitter.com/kpkWS0Y359
— vanessa york (@vanessayork8) January 24, 2020
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.”
— philip? (@snuffedtorches) January 18, 2020
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”.
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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 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.”
I took my brother to meet his hero and idol at DragCon UK and the sweet child got nervous and WOULD NOT STOP talking abt this gingerbread he made of her for Christmas so @TheBiancaDelRio if you see this here’s a clarification https://t.co/mCWXILgT9d pic.twitter.com/gKpgotx27l
— Sabina Weston (@sabi_west) January 24, 2020
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