Drag Storytime, events where drag performers read stories to children, have become increasingly popular since they first began in San Francisco seven years ago. Now held across North America, these events celebrate diversity, promote inclusivity, and provide a safe space for children to learn about acceptance. However, there has been a concerning surge in hate crimes and homophobic attacks targeting these events since the Capitol riot in 2021.
Detractors of drag storytimes argue that these events could potentially “indoctrinate or sexualize” children, while supporters, including many parents, appreciate the joyful and inclusive nature of these gatherings. Queer advocacy groups emphasize that drag storytimes teach acceptance, but the message is often hijacked by hate groups.
A GLAAD report reveals that 120 drag events in the U.S. have been targeted with threats, raising concerns that protests could escalate into violence. Despite these threats, drag performers continue to hold storytimes, working towards a safer and more inclusive environment for children.
The Washington Post highlights that drag has been gaining popularity and mainstream acceptance, with events like Drag Queen Story Hour being held for children. This popularity is due in part to the influence of the internet and shows like “RuPaul’s Drag Race”. However, this growing recognition has also led to protests and attacks on drag events by far-right groups and conservative politicians.
Legislation has been proposed to bar minors from attending drag shows, reflecting the changing audience of these events, which now attracts a more diverse group rather than primarily gay men. Drag’s history as a marginalized art form, distinct from transgender identity, faces potential consequences for both drag and LGBTQ rights due to the recent backlash.
Drag performers are feeling threatened and unsure about the future, with the drag community seeing these recent attacks as a threat to LGBTQ visibility and rights. The current era is seen as an inflection point for both drag and LGBTQ rights, with the potential to either progress or regress based on how these threats and hate crimes are addressed.
It is crucial for the LGBTQ community, supporters, and advocacy groups to remain vigilant and work together to counteract the hate growing against these positive and inclusive events. The resilience of drag performers in continuing to hold storytimes amidst threats showcases their dedication to fostering a safer and more accepting environment for all children, regardless of their background or identity.