Drag Queen Story Time (DQST)
What exactly is Drag Queen Story Time (Hour) and why is it so important?
According to the DQSH Organization’s website, they defines DQSH as,
"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." (Drag Queen Story Hour, 2018)
It teaches children to embrace their imagination and explore options outside the rigid gender stereotypes that have defined our society for a millennia. Children tend to have a natural gender fluidity that can be stilted by the rules and constructs of our world. Not only is DQST a fun experience that fosters creativity, but it provides an adult role model who is proud and comfortable with their own gender fluidity. It gives an example to those children who may feel the same way. It also shows everyone how to embrace, accept, and even feel empathy towards those different from them, even if that difference is something they might not fully understand. The hope is that by providing this exposure at an early age, DQSH will help diminish the harrowing effects of bullying. “LGBTQ-positive programs like DQSH are a vital part of making the world a safe and affirming place for all children.” (DQSH, 2018)
Bringing a drag queen into libraries and schools as a children’s storyteller brings LGBTQ (and all) youth an experience they would not normally be able to access until their adulthood. This is because DQSH is created for children and contains age-appropriate content, whereas a “traditional” drag shows are usually held at bars or concert halls and are meant for an adult audience.
At my first DQSH in Annapolis, a mother approached me to express her thanks and excitement:
"We got to meet our first drag queen two years ago at karaoke,’ said Kris Rudolph, a Baltimore resident, her daughters Gianna and Adalynn waiting expectantly, ‘and she became my oldest’s idol.” Rudolph spent the next two years looking for a local story reading where her daughters could interact with another queen and learn about acceptance. ‘It’s just really important for me for them to understand we are all humans, we are all people and it doesn’t matter what we look like or, within reason, how we choose to live our lives,’ Rudolph said. ‘We want to be respectful of others." (Capital Gazette, 2018)
It’s a beautiful feeling to know that I get to contribute to programming like DQST that provides these important acceptance-building experiences to families and children. In addition to DQST teaching children to accept differences in gender identity and sexual orientation, these programs also strive to foster awareness and acceptance of all facets of identity like race, religion, nationality, age, disability, economic status, familial structure, and more. At its core, DQST is simply an advocate for love and acceptance. And last but not least, drag queens are natural born performers. They are energetic, funny, and know how to address a crowd and hold their attention. A crowded room of children can be somewhat similar to entertaining/holding the attention of a bar full of adults.
What specifically happens during a DQSH? The structure for our DQSH is the same as any regular story time with books, songs, chants, movement, and crafts. Typically, the story time lasts 30-45 minutes depending on the age and attention span of the children. We begin with a “Hello Song” and continues with alternating books (three picture books are planned), songs, chants, and movement. The themes for these activities will celebrate diversity, creativity, acceptance, and love. A themed craft usually follows with time for photos/meet and greet with the drag queen story teller!