I showed up early and parked myself close to the front of the room for Drag Queen Story Hour, the session I was most excited about. It did not disappoint! Queer performers who defy gender limitations are trained in storytime 101 by libraries to engage, sing, and read stories with children and families.
Stories range from books championing diversity like Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress and Worm Loves Worm, to roaringly fun staples like The Book With No Pictures. Ever since hearing about the growing movement of these bright, fun, and fabulous storytimes, I’ve been curious about the logistics of bringing it to my own community. After the session, I felt confident that it’s not a matter of if but when I can make this happen! I serve a community that, at surface level, might not seem to be crying out for a drag queen storytime. With that said, appearances are deceiving, LGBTQ people are everywhere, and making waves can inspire positive change.
Some of the feedback the presenters shared really stuck with me. “When I saw your sparkly shirt, big hair, bright makeup, I immediately thought why can’t we find more people like you to work with our kids who need bright personalities to see and learn,” said the Facebook post of a parent whose 7-year-old child has a brain injury with resulting lowered vision.
Inviting LGBTQ, gender-nonconforming, and nonbinary performers to the library models inclusion and diversity through action, not just words. It can help children and families who might feel different to feel seen, safe, valid, happy, proud of who they are, and of course, fabulous.
Drag Queen Story Hours have had a powerful impact with an incredible response. According to the presenters, the outpouring of positivity far outweighed the criticism. In fact, sometimes a very straightforward response of what the program entails resulted in reactions along the lines of “oh, that doesn’t sound right for me, but I’m glad you offer such a wealth of different programs for people.”
Displaying and celebrating gender fluidity has the potential to open minds and hearts to worlds beyond what they may have been exposed to, foster acceptance, and teach children that we are all valid and who we are is beautiful.