“Who wants to be a drag queen when they grow up?” That’s the question a man dressed as a woman recently asked children attending “Drag Queen Story Hour” (DQSH) at a public library in New York.
Since last fall, the Brooklyn Public Library in Park Slope has been offering the storytime for children, bringing in various drag queens to read children’s books about homosexuality, gender identity and “non-conformity,” and “general youth discomfort.”
It’s one of several cities across the country—including San Francisco and Los Angeles—who have signed on to the program, created by Michelle Tea of Radar Productions.
“DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models,” the website for the effort reads.
Last Saturday, a man who dresses as a woman and identifies as “Lil Hot Mess” appeared at the Brooklyn Public Library in a silver sequin dress smathered with rainbow stickers.
He read the book “Worm Loves Worm”—a story about “marriage equality”—to the group of children and their parents.
Following the reading, he led the children in a song and dance, singing, “The hips on the drag queen go swish, swish, swish” and “The heels on the drag queen go higher, higher.”
Kate Savage, a representative at the library, praised the event as being “fantastic.”
“[I]t addresses all of these issues of gender fluidity and self-acceptance and all these topics that are real,” she told the Associated Press.
However, the idea has also been met with concern and dismay.
“It’s not getting pushed on children, they said. Now they’ve got drag queens asking them directly, ‘Who wants to be a drag queen when you grow up?’ Indoctrination is never cool,” one commenter wrote.
“Why on earth would you expose impressionable minds to someone who is obviously mentally confused?” another asked. “We should be reinforcing gender identity and not adding to the chaos of this very mixed-up world. You are either born male or female; there is no gray area.”
“You have got to be kidding me. You can’t talk about Jesus, but you can teach from the Koran and now this garbage, which a majority of American families are against!” a third wrote.
In addition to the Park Slope location, the event has been held at the Aguilar Branch Library, the New York Public Library, the Tompkins Square Library, and the Hudson Park Library in the city, as well as the Humboldt County Library in Eureka, California.
In San Francisco, the program is part of a wider effort called “Queering the Castro,” according to the San Francisco Gate.
“The Castro is predominantly a white gay men’s space now,” Radar Executive Director Delgado Lopera told the outlet. “This project is about taking back the radically queer roots of the neighborhood. With art and literature, we’re doing a series of interventions and bringing in other queer folks into that space.”