“Can everyone say, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a drag queen’?” —Drag Queen Lil Miss Hot Mess.
Sick and tired of little boys rejecting tutus and little girls embracing Barbie, left-wing activists are pushing for American children to engage with drag queens in publicly funded schools and libraries. San Francisco-based RADAR Productions and New York-based Feminist Press have teamed up to bring "Drag Queen Story Hour" to life, hoping to "defy rigid gender restrictions" while providing "unabashedly queer role models."
As the campaign notes, Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is exactly what it sounds like: local drag queens—decked out in over-the-top, loud clothing and glitter—reading feminist-inspired fairly tales to young children.
"DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity in childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models," explains the campaign's YouTube promotional video. "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, and where dress-up is real."
The push for DQSH was spurred by the presidential election of Republican Donald Trump, say backers, who are hoping to raise $15,000 to help put on such story hours three times a month at public schools and libraries across the country.
"In the face of a Trump/Pence presidency, we need programs that affirm and celebrate gender creative children more than ever," states the video, featured on Feminist Press' site. "Please hep us raise $15,000 to produce FREE Drag Queen Story Hour events at public libraries and school three times a month in 2017."
In late November, The New Yorker chronicled one DQSH event at the Park Slope branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, hosted by the Los Angeles-based writer and DQSH creator Michelle Tea.
The disturbing piece opens with Tea lamenting her two-year-old son Atticus' boyish preferences: "He is pretty butch—we call him Fratticus," she says. "I'm always pushing a tutu on him, but he’s, like, 'No.'"
According to The New Yorker, Tea's "solution" to this alleged problem was the creation of DQSH.
"I have long thought that drag queens need to be the performers at children’s parties, rather than magicians or clowns," she states.
One attendee, Rachel Aimee, said DQSH was just the type of event she looks for as a mother.
"The thing that first struck me was it’s all about dressing up and being pretty without the baggage of gender coding," she stated. "As a parent, I’ve been looking for something like that."
Aimee says she's questioned her feminist beliefs in light of her 6-year-old daughter's affection for Barbie.
"She got really into watching ‘Barbie: Life in the Dream House,'" the mother complained. "How could I tell her not to watch it? It has a thousand girls and only, like, two boys in it. I would be teaching her that shows about girls are bad."
Apparently Aimee thinks DQSH can help fix her clearly sexist daughter's preferences.
Tea then broke-in the children by emphasizing how "amazing" and fabulously "feminist" drag queens are.
"Do you all know what a drag queen is?" Tea asked the children. "Drag queens are amazing. They get to do fun things like dance and sing and travel and play dress-up with their drag-queen friends. And they’re all feminists."
Then came drag queen Lil Miss Hot Mess' bizarre interaction with the children. The New Yorker reports:
The drag queen Lil Miss Hot Mess came out, wearing a white sequinned tunic dress and matching heels, bright-pink tights, and a curly auburn wig. (She has performed at Bushwig, a drag festival, and at sfmoma.) She declined to give her birth name but said that she is a graduate student in media studies at N.Y.U. She put on black owlish reading glasses, sat on a folding chair, and addressed her audience: “Can everyone say, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a drag queen’?”
The children just stared.
She would be reading from “Tatterhood,” a collection of feminist folktales, which had originally been published by the Feminist Press, in the nineteen-seventies. The title story, from Norway, features a feisty goat-riding heroine who fights off angry trolls with a spoon.
The children would soon lose interest, notes The New Yorker, climbing on their parents' laps and asking to play with their iPads.
Children, boys and girls alike, were then encouraged to make crowns with Lil Miss Hot Mess.
Before leaving, the drag queen informed us of his feelings about children: "I don’t have kids, but I'm a sperm donor," he said. "I personally don’t want them, but I like having them in my life."
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