Drag Queen Events Stir Protests

Drag queen performer Anna Yacht

Drag queen performer Anna Yacht

The Forsyth County Republican Men’s Club and Conservative Women of Forsyth County recently threatened to stage a protest during Bookmarks Drag Queen Story Time event, in which “Anna Yacht” was scheduled to read to children ages 3 to 7. Ken Raymond, chairman of the Forsyth Republican party explained the rationale behind such protests, telling the Winston-Salem Journal’s Katelyn Oglesby, “Drag Queen Story Time is a tactic of militant gay leftists trying to separate children from their parents in order to indoctrinate them.”

Before I attempt to unpack Mr. Raymond’s theory, it might be helpful to understand that people of all ages, both conservative and liberal, have, for centuries, been entertained by men dressed up as women. In Shakespeare’s time, for example, only men were allowed to perform on stage, so when rowdy Globe Theatre audiences saw a “woman” enter from the wings, they knew that “she” was actually an actor dressed as a woman. It is also believed that the term “drag” derived from how Globe actors had to drag their long dresses across the stage. Later, even as women were allowed to perform on stage, many male comedians made a living by wearing women’s clothing. In fact, those early vaudeville comics inspired the first King of television, Milton Berle, whose most popular character was that of a flamboyant female singer. Such cross-dressing performances continued as a staple of TV and motion picture comedies, with superstars like Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon making audiences howl over their gender-bending antics. In the latter half of the 20th century, Divine was the poster “girl” for the drag queen movement, and in recent years, RuPaul has turned drag into a media phenomenon and helped to spur widespread interest in local drag queen events. Those include storytelling activities at public libraries and public schools, and that brings me back to the Bookmarks protest.

First, I don’t agree that “militant gay leftists” are trying to separate children from their parents, at least not at Bookmarks. After all, there aren’t too many kids ages 3 to 7 who can drive themselves to a Drag Queen Story Time event. Moms and Dads who see such events as family-friendly, willingly allow their children to be exposed to the messages of tolerance being taught by drag queens. But that doesn’t seem to matter to legislators in Texas, Florida, and Arizona, who have recently introduced bills to prevent minors from attending drag events of any kind, which they describe as “inappropriate sexual content” for the children present. Nevertheless, it should be up to the parent to determine what is and isn’t appropriate content for his or her child, and in that regard, the aforementioned proposed laws seem to discount parental rights. However, just as some parents fight against state laws that censor content, others have the right to do the opposite, that is, to fight for the right to protect their child from certain content. And that brings me to Drag Queen Story Time events at public schools.

Between January and May of this year, New York City public school officials have paid the Drag Story Hour company over $200,000 to conduct 49 reading sessions at 34 different schools, most of them at the elementary level, and all of them without parental consent.

Some NYC residents are concerned over the amount of taxpayer dollars being spent for Drag Queen events, while parents are livid over having no advance warning or input about the events themselves. The tipping point seemed to be a reading session back in April at a school in Manhattan in which “Harmonica Sunbeam” encouraged kids to choose their pronouns and invent drag names for themselves. Speaking with the New York Post, City Councilwoman Vickie Paladino said: 

“We are taking hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the pockets of hardworking New York taxpayers to fund a program teaching little children about their gender fluidity? Not on my watch.”

There are also complaints from parents about more than just content and messaging, mainly involving scantily clad folks at Pride events in which drag queens happened to participate. Those associations have served to conflate various concerns and controversies surrounding story time activities, and fuel the rhetoric about the “militant gay leftist” agenda. Forsyth GOP Chairman Ken Raymond referred to Drag Queen Story Time as “perversion”, and based that on his having watched a video in which children were allowed to put dollar bills down the G-strings of drag queens. And recently a London library had to apologize when a drag queen showed up at a summer reading event wearing a “Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey” costume.

Obviously, drag queens should never wear obscene costumes around little children, nor should they encourage kids to engage in well-meaning, gender-related learning activities without first obtaining parental permission. Aside from that, parents who wish to bring their offspring to a story time event should be allowed to do so without interference from legislators or political protesters.


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