With the rise of popularity that the drag movement is receiving in mainstream media and society, we are seeing more and more drag-inspired elements in our daily lives. We’ve seen conventions, stand-up comedy specials, t-shirts and other merch, television and internet shows—it seems like everywhere we look drag has infiltrated to expose others to the great art of being a drag queen and to empower, more than anything, the LGBTQIA community and educate the world.
Recently, you may have seen the unique form of integrating drag that has popped up at libraries around the country. Drag queens have embraced their roles as storytellers and begun holding storytimes at libraries and school for families to learn about the art of drag as well as to hear interesting stories. As a librarian you better believe that this is already in the works for my own community library in Orange County—more on that as the programs begin to transpire. A library's sole purpose is to provide access to information and open up avenues for communication among the library's users, even if the topic of discussion is taboo or controversial. You better believe THE LIBRARY IS OPEN!
Drag queens started to take over libraries in San Francisco and Brooklyn thanks to the planning of Radar Productions, a San Francisco based company specializing in unique programming. This idea has taken flight and now we are seeing drag storytimes that have taken place in Los Angeles and other cities around the nation. How fabulous!
According to the Drag Story Hour website:
Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.
While DQSH is a coined production specifically put on by Radar Productions, many local libraries and local drag queens are taking to storytelling in their own ways and catering to their community needs. However, with the creation of this new form of storytelling, there is always resistance.
Many have voiced their concern as to whether we should be placing emphasis on this alternative form of entertainment and lifestyle. This has been the biggest hurdle for some communities which is why we have not seen as many drag queen storytimes as libraries would like.
In Charlotte, NC Drag Queen Princess Onya has encountered some resistance to bringing drag queen storytime to the community.
In a story from NBC, Brandon James (Princess Onya) shared how he had great support from his family when he came out as young man and would like to impart that same support to other young people.
James has said:
I came out to my grandmother when I was seven years old and I came out officially when I was 11 years old. This is so much bigger than a parent. This is helping your kids and it's helping other kids. It's saving kids lives.
Like the many drag queens who are joining in the movement, James sees the value in books and making these connections at a young age.
Forms of drag have been around for centuries, so we know the art form will continue to reinvent itself over time. But how long will it be until drag storytimes are happening in every state? I think it's time to remind everyone not to judge a book by its cover.