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On the front line at Drag Queen Story Hour

Who thought that it might be a good idea to replace Rhyme Time with this? And why on earth did they think it?

The view among protestors was clear: drag queens are for nightclubs, not toddler groups

Henleaze, a suburb in the north of Bristol, is an unlikely place for a protest. This is a well-to-do area where the houses sit behind neatly-clipped hedges and cost over half-a-million pounds. But across the road from the local Waitrose yesterday* morning, Henleaze’s library was surrounded by at least a dozen police officers and two angry groups of demonstrators. A gaggle of toddlers and their mums had also gathered. Drag Queen Story Hour was about to begin.

Those protesting against the appearance of Sab Samuel, a drag queen who goes by the stage name Aida H Dee, were clear what they thought. ‘It’s wrong. This is aimed at toddlers and these kids don’t understand,’ a man in his 50s said. 

In relative silence, a dozen or so woman huddled with their children. Three and four year-olds stood with eyes wide open looking at the astonishing scenes outside their library.

It was harder to engage with the other group. They were younger and angrier. Masks were almost ubiquitous; many were also hooded and hid their faces behind dark glasses. But their feelings were equally clear as they chanted: ‘Say it loud, say it clear, drag queens are welcome here.’

Supporting them three paces behind the front line, two teachers waving flags of the National Education Union did talk to me. ‘I think it’s shocking’, said one as she looked across the divide, ‘we have LGBTQ+ on the curriculum and kids as young as six know about transgenderism’. Eventually the library admitted those with tickets. Everyone else was kept outside, including a regular stream of library users. But this was a Thursday like no other. 

Outside Hillfields Library

Drag Queen Story Hour was eventually called off in Henleaze as a result of the ugly scenes outside the library. Instead, the children enjoyed a normal session of ‘Rhyme Time’ led by library staff. But outside, tensions were still rising. As the younger demonstrators chanted: ‘I’d rather be a drag queen than a fash’, their parents’ generation responded with the megaphone. This time a blast of the Jim’ll Fix It theme tune.

Aida H Dee is on a nationwide tour and the next gig was imminent: 1.00 p.m., across the city in Hillfields. Both groups headed for their vehicles and battled the lunchtime traffic to the next library where the drag performer was already holed up.

This part of the city is not so well off, but the ticket holders were a similar demographic: women with young children. Again library staff stood across the door: no ticket, no entry. A second battalion of police were on hand in the wings. But here, the inspector in charge let the two groups mingle, and some common ground was found. Being a very British protest, two women found an interest in each other’s dogs. There was also a shared concern for children. This, after all, was why everyone was here.

But their arguments were poles apart. Mark Nelson had come all the way from Cornwall, and he was worried. Nelson told me that he had seen Drag Queen Story Hour start up in America, ‘and now it’s come here,’ he added ominously.

Nelson probably spoke for many when he remembered his own school days: ‘When I was a child we had police officers and fire fighters come and speak to us; I grew up wanting to be a fireman.’ The parents’ and grandparents’ view was clear: drag queens are for nightclubs, not toddler groups.

Henleaze Library

Over at the front line, tensions were rising fast. One young protestor moaned about a hate crime: it seemed that someone had been misgendered, and she promptly reported it to police. Expect that she was a they. ‘I’m not a woman’, she asserted. 

She didn’t need to look far for a police officer – the pavement was heaving with them – but neither did she get far when she refused to give her details. On one hand these were menacing youths – with masked faces and concealed identities – but at the same time they were little more than confused teenagers. When a flag waver hit me with a flag, an apology followed. Behind the bravado some of these protestors were naïve youngsters who have yet to learn the facts of life. 

Suddenly a car containing Aida H Dee zipped out of the back entrance and signalled another dash – this time to Stockwood Library in the south of the city. More women with more children, more police. Another fee collected by the performer; another library closed to the public.

Inside, the drag queen performed to toddlers, with the ever expanding Pride flag hanging alongside them. Who thought that it might be a good idea to replace Rhyme Time with this? And why on earth did they think it?

Bristol City Council insist that Drag Queen Story Hour ‘offers children a rich experience in story telling in an interactive way as well as an understanding of different communities’. 

‘Lessons like this are how we can create a more inclusive society, and educate children about tolerance and difference. Unfortunately it seems some adults need these lessons too,’ a spokesman for the council said.

Meanwhile, the Drag Queen Story Hour tour continues: today Aida H Dee is back in Bristol. It won’t be long before the protestors gather.


Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.

* This article was first published by The Spectator on 29 July 2022: On the front line at Drag Queen Story Hour.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

13 replies on “On the front line at Drag Queen Story Hour”

It isn’t 100% clear to me what your position is, Debbie, although I suspect you feel similar to the way that I do. Drag queens are natural performers, and it seems obvious to me that they are pushing themselves on kids because they can’t find enough adult venues to perform in. I have written about this on my own blog. I question whether drag queens are good role models for children. Drag queens are promoting themselves as part of “diversity”, but are they really? When I think of “diversity”, I think of a variety of races, cultures, languages and occupations. Gays and even transgender people can be part of this diversity, but not drag queens. Why? Because they are sexual fetishists. When seen in night clubs, a majority of them dress up like prostitutes, with exaggerated makeup and often showing cleavage. What I see is men mocking women. Indeed, drag can be compared to black face. Women already suffer from enough misogyny in Western societies like the U.S. and Britain without unleashing these men-who-mock women on our kids. Do we really want to encourage our youngest kids to have a sexual fetish?

Not long after Drag Queen Story Hour opened their web site in the U.S., I visited it. There were a zillion pictures on it, and more pictures on their Facebook page. As I suspected, about 60% of them looked like prostitutes, while about 40% of them looked like fairy god mothers. Even if all the drag queens who show up to read to the kids look like fairy god mothers, I still think the message that kids are getting isn’t a healthy one. In the same way that black people can represent themselves without whites in blackface, let our society appreciate REAL WOMEN for what they are. We don’t need men promoting women to our kids in the guise of overly feminine clowns, which is what many of them look like.

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Thanks for that good bit of reporting of this interesting and challenging issue. I have to say I was conflicted for a moment, but after looking into it a bit more, I’m on Aida’s side. Sab Samuel, the guy behind the Aida H Dee character, seems to be educating children in diversity and encouraging kids to be themselves and transcend bullying.

This is the distinction I’ve attempted to work out before in my comments here. There are ignorant claims by the trans activists that we have an inherent non-physical “gender” that’s sometimes at odds with our body and thus requires “gender re-assignment”. And there’s the issue of both sexes developing freedom from “gender stereotypes”, including what we wear and how we look, which is what this particular drag queen act seems to be all about.

As I’ve indicated before, the two issues are related, but counterintuitively. If we accept that men can look like typical women and do what typical women do, that undermines the assumption that a boy is “in the wrong body” because they like wearing skirts, playing with dolls or caring for babies. Much of the militant trans-activism seems to be predicated on an unconscious sexism at odds with behavioural diversity, hence the requirement in transitioning about living as, or in the role of, one or the other sex for a certain length of time before this or that status or medical treatment. This simply means – as far as I can see – conforming to gender stereotypes convincingly enough for long enough.

Why was I conflicted? Well, because I’m drag-phobic. I’m homophobic and transphobic, and probably sexist and racist as well. I squirm at campness and flamboyance (or flamgirlance?). I like naturalness, and am somewhat revolted by any form of makeup, on men or women. But I can avoid reacting on those emotions. I can learn to love others more despite their differences.

There has always been an element of clownishness in drag artistry, from the pantomime dame to world-famous female impersonators with honours for their contribution to entertainment. It is also one way that difference – particularly homosexuality – was able to break through the homophobic armour of traditional Western culture, so it should be honoured for that role.

My judgement came down to what the act actually was, and it seems very positive to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzq91VtjF7w

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I notice you didn’t respond to any of the things I said in my comment. I’ll repeat them here.

Drag has nothing to do with diversity. Homosexuality does contribute to diversity because homosexuals constitute 15% of the population (when bisexuals are included in the mix — this is my personal estimate). To me, drag queens are just sexual fetishists and do not portray women in a sympathetic way. Either they portray women as prostitutes or as fairy god mothers. Either way, with 51% of the population being female, women can represent themselves — in the same way that black people can represent themselves without the assistance of white men in black face.

You said, “Sab Samuel, the guy behind the Aida H Dee character, seems to be educating children in diversity and encouraging kids to be themselves and transcend bullying.” I don’t think that’s what is happening at all. Samuel is an entertainer and is probably frustrated because he doesn’t have enough venues in which to perform, so he is bringing his very strange show to the kids, who probably don’t understand what is going on. In my view, drag is an adult form of entertainment, too sophisticated and strange for young children.

What does “diversity” mean? It means multiple races, multiple cultures, multiple languages, multiple avocations. It doesn’t mean sexual fetishism.

I admire that you are so honest about your natural prejudices. My prejudices are similar, although I’m not racist. But as a gay person, I DON’T honor drag queens for their role in gay liberation. First, not all drag queens are gay (lots of them are straight), so drag has nothing to do with being gay. Secondly, I always saw them as a strange fringe group that dragged down the image of gay people. Whatever they are, they are not suitable entertainment for children.

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Hi Caleb,

I didn’t respond directly to any of the points you made, true, nor you mine, as far as I saw.

I’m still separating out the issues and what I think about them, and I’m happy to discuss them with you. One thing I haven’t discovered yet is to what extent “Aida” encourages children to believe in a non-physical gender sometimes at odds with their sex. It’s one thing to support trans people, another to support damaging fantasies that impinge on people’s lives.

It is true that women CAN represent themselves, but that fact is no reason to denounce men representing women or vice versa. I also condone people “representing” (we mean, perhaps “impersonating”) other races, abilities, cultures. I try to avoid automatic, derogatory trigger-words, like “blackface”. I am a critic of political correctness (gone too far) or “wokism” and “cancel culture”.

The mob is currently sending endless death threats to Mr Samuel for grooming and paedophilia, although there is absolutely no evidence of his transgression and he’s undergone the usual legal checks before working with children. I denounce strongly those trans activists encouraging children (and adults) to believe the fairytale of their supernatural gender, as I have made clear. If Aida were doing so, I would be concerned.

I only watched the first reading – of Felix’s New Skirt – but the message seems to be that boys can wear skirts and THEY ARE STILL BOYS. Hence, unless there is some subterfuge going on, this logically fits with the facts of life. It challenges the idea that stereotypes of how people look and act determine their sex. Indeed, the general message was simply to be proud of who you are, which seems positive.

Some of your points:

“To me, drag queens are just sexual fetishists and do not portray women in a sympathetic way. Either they portray women as prostitutes or as fairy god mothers.”

I haven’t seen anything in Sab’s act that indicates sexual fetishism, either privately (but then we wouldn’t know that) or publicly. I don’t think there is anything wrong with sexual fetishism, per se, either, although I WOULD be concerned if an act were encouraging children to be sexual fetishists rather than leaving them to discover their sexuality themselves.

I’m interested to know what “sympathetic way” you require men to impersonate women, if that’s what you’re saying we must do. Or do you require men not to impersonate women ever, as you denounce white people impersonating other “races”? If the latter, why mention what you consider to be unsympathetic representation? I’m also unsure if you denounce sex workers, or just men dressing up a bit like your mental stereotype of one (actual sex workers are more diverse, but rarely dress up quite as flamboyantly). Fairy godmothers really trigger my ingrained phobia, but I try to separate out what is my personal emotional reaction from what is actual harm. I’m more concerned about people telling children there’s an actual Angel Gabriel than playing the part of a fantasy character for fun.

But I do get your point, I think. I don’t “like” women over-dressed and made up. I don’t like raunchy sexual displays. I don’t like mothers indoctrinating their girls with makeup and pretty dresses over more interesting and useful opportunities life offers. I don’t like the widespread reiteration of the image of women as canvases rather than people, or as sex objects. I don’t “like” prostitution. It’s just that it’s actually really difficult to assess the balance of good and harm in particular cases, and it’s hard to know how much to warn about, or object to, or ban, behaviours we see potential harm in.

“Samuel is an entertainer and is probably frustrated because he doesn’t have enough venues in which to perform, so he is bringing his very strange show to the kids, who probably don’t understand what is going on.”

You make the assumption that he can’t find enough venues, then imply that trying to extend his audience is wrong. The attribution “very strange” needs unpacking; doesn’t it just mean “unusual”, or that you don’t like it? This is what we all have built in – phobic reaction to different things – it’s an evolutionary protective response. We can, however, analyse it rationally intead of reacting to it. If the very youngest kids don’t understand what is going on, is there harm being done? Very young kids don’t understand most of what’s going on. By that, I don’t mean we can do anything in front of them, just that we have to understand what may or may not be harmful.

I would encourage us to deal with specific individuals and the potential good or harm their behaviour does. Millions of parents take their kids to Christmas pantomimes, where the pantomime Dame’s act is a stream of double entendres the younger kids won’t understand, but they’ll laugh at the funny lady occasionally flipping the back of her skirt up to reveal her frilly knickers. They might know it’s “rude”, and later they might consider what all that fuss is about rudeness, when they begin to understand sexuality. It doesn’t seem to have done the kids any harm, but if there’s evidence it does, we should perhaps stop it.

“What does “diversity” mean? It means multiple races, multiple cultures, multiple languages, multiple avocations. It doesn’t mean sexual fetishism.”

Because? This is your list of acceptable differences and one you find unacceptable. I’m not sure how you’re using the word, “fetishism”, as behaviour or limited to objects (clothing, presumably, in this case). But you need to unpack this idea too, I think. We all have particular things that we find sexually stimulating (I’ve no idea why, but I’m often turned on by women archaeologists at a dig). What would you see banned or discouraged: French knickers? Rubber pants? S&M? I’m not sure why preferences for sexual stimulation or behaviours shouldn’t be part of our definition of diversity (within limits – the golden rule is a good start). Perhaps you can enlighten me. I also think – if we focus on what Aida actually does – it’s a bit of a stretch to bring the subject up. Do you know that he’s getting off on being dressed up (and educating kids that it doesn’t matter how you dress)? Would it matter if he never let on?

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After reading your comment, I looked up this Sab Samuel / Aida character, and no, I don’t think such a character is suitable for children. To me, he’s really sick-looking. His appearance ridicules women. A drag queen like this does nothing good for either women or children.

I absolutely see something wrong with men dressing up as women and white men wearing blackface. None of that is normal or necessary. Now, let’s say a troupe of actors is lacking the necessary actors of a certain sex or race, I suppose such a thing could be done harmlessly if it is done sympathetically. However, people don’t usually do such things to be harmless; they do it to make fun, to ridicule, to make a statement.

I see this Sab Samuel / Aida character as the type that dresses up as a prostitute, given the tight dress, heavy makeup and mile-high hair. If he had enough flesh on his chest, he would probably push it together to form some cleavage. To me, what he’s doing IS a sexual fetish.

I appreciate that you are trying to be tolerant, and that you see your revulsion towards such behavior as a bad thing. I laud you for that. But perhaps your revulsion is just a natural reaction. Yes, legally, you have to tolerate such characters when you encounter them, but you don’t have to defend them. My opinion is that there IS something wrong when people of one group imitate people of another group. Let women represent themselves. Let black people represent themselves. Let’s not put weirdos on a pedestal.

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Hi Caleb,

“After reading your comment, I looked up this Sab Samuel / Aida character, and no, I don’t think such a character is suitable for children.”

But you’ve given no reason related to actual harm, just emotive responses like:

“To me, he’s really sick-looking.”

My point is that we should beware these emotional responses to people. History is littered with such phrases regarding all manner of people and behaviours, which we now recognise as irrational. That is the very definition and etymology of “prejudice” – pre-judgement.

“His appearance ridicules women. A drag queen like this does nothing good for either women or children.”

Are you male? If so, can I ask how you judge what is good for a group you don’t belong to? What about all the mothers who love Aida’s show and take their infants to see it? Why are they deliberately accepting ridicule from him? What about his message – as I already mentioned – to have pride in who you are, have courage against bullies, and, most pertinent to this blog, that most clothing isn’t gendered except by tradition and stereotyping, so little boys who like to wear dresses should not jump to the conclusion that they are girls in a boy’s body? Isn’t that doing something good? Perhaps you do think that’s wrong and the sexes should stick to their allotted clothing, since you say:

“I absolutely see something wrong with men dressing up as women and white men wearing blackface.”

And yet you seem unable to say what that wrongness consists of. What actual harm does it do? There is, of course, the secondary argument that a behaviour may cause deep offence leading to violence, and clearly this is a big risk in the race issue. This might also be a reason to inveigh against “cross-dressing,” and there IS clear evidence from this report of that happening. But notably you make no such case. Instead you revert to unreason:

“None of that is normal or necessary.”

Base jumping isn’t normal or necessary. Should people only do what is (or you consider) “normal” and “necessary”?

“Now, let’s say a troupe of actors is lacking the necessary actors of a certain sex or race, I suppose such a thing could be done harmlessly if it is done sympathetically.”

My problem with this attitude is that you appear to be outlawing the general case, then allowing particular instances if those involved can demonstrate there’s no alternative, so it’s “necessary”. But you haven’t said WHY it’s wrong in the first place. Besides, if something is actually wrong, the actors shouldn’t do it – it’s only theatre, which definitely isn’t “necessary”.

“However, people don’t usually do such things to be harmless; they do it to make fun, to ridicule, to make a statement.”

That’s a particularly negative assessment of why people immitate others. It’s often for comedic effect, and it is often with friendly intentions, making fun in a light-hearted way of people of a different class, or ethnicity, or sex. There’s something we have in human society called “fun”. Did you never see the Monty Python show? It’s full of ridiculous cross-dressing. It’s meant without malice, surely? Funny things are often “abnormal”, you may notice, and they are often so to challenge our prejudices.

Why would Sab tell people to be proud of who they are, but be trying to ridicule half the population at the same time? Nothing you say seems to square with reality on this. Isn’t it more likely that his message, “be proud of yourself” is better coming from someone deliberately challenging convention, making people like you feel upset and weird and not making sense when you try to denounce them?

I suggest you assess the actual behaviour, the person’s intentions, and the actual harm or benefit being done. You’ve assumed (apparently) that Sab is “ridiculing women,” and (presumably) that you know this is harming them, presenting ZERO EVIDENCE. It’s also against the evidence that parents queue up and pay to bring their kids, despite crowds of far-right protestors, are delighted by the show, and ask him to come back again soon.

“I see this Sab Samuel / Aida character as the type that dresses up as a prostitute, given the tight dress, heavy makeup and mile-high hair. If he had enough flesh on his chest, he would probably push it together to form some cleavage. To me, what he’s doing IS a sexual fetish.”

Again, “I see…” and “To me…” aren’t good enough moral arguments. You are still asserting that his dressing up is “a sexual fetish” simply because that’s what it appears to be to you instead of getting outside your emotions and examining the facts. You have also ignored my question of whether you denounce prostitution/sex work itself. You are stereotyping sex workers with this image, when they are individuals with all manner of personal styles. There are male sex workers, for example. A further challenge would be whether it is wrong to have a “sexual fetish,” which would (depending on how we define that) alienate a substantial proportion of the population.

“I appreciate that you are trying to be tolerant,”

Well, I am, but more than that I’m trying to be RATIONAL. There’s a difference. And the latter leads naturally to a rational balance of the former. Denounce actual harm. If you can’t identify harm, what’s the harm in allowing it?

“and that you see your revulsion towards such behavior as a bad thing.”

I had virtually no revulsion to Aida’s act, since it was mostly reading books to children to relate an important educational message, and the character is probably a great way to engage their interest and make the point.

“I laud you for that. But perhaps your revulsion is just a natural reaction.”

That is precisely what I said! I’m sad you make that argument as if it were reasonable – we should follow our gut reactions to things? Civilization requires that we THINK instead of relying on our natural reactions like revulsion! Our natural reactions are the reason there is racism and xenophobia, transphobia and homophobia, etc., etc.

“Yes, legally, you have to tolerate such characters when you encounter them, but you don’t have to defend them.”

I think of it the other way round: we should be free to argue for or against things, and our rational examination of their balance of good and harm should inform our laws. You appear to feel that your toleration is something imposed on you by some arbitrary legal process.

“My opinion is that there IS something wrong when people of one group imitate people of another group.”

But you don’t say what this “something wrong” is. Furthermore, your statement is problematic because one could devise any number of groups to put people into, in order to preclude one type imitating the other (as well as all the rules by which they can prove it’s necessary to overturn the general rule). Presumably all children’s theatre where they imitate adults is off limits unless they can’t find any adults to play the adults. It’ll ruin the school Nativity.

“Let women represent themselves.”

Women do represent themselves. You don’t actually say what you mean most of the time. Here, I assume it is: “Stop men representing women.” And yet (I assume you’re a man) you’re happy speaking for women, denouncing their freedom to look at a man in a dress.

“Let black people represent themselves.”

Unless you can’t find a black person for your production. What, actually, is a “black person” in regard to these rules you make up? If you begin to trace immediate ancestry, there’s a whole range of possible “races” to consider. Indeed, “race” is essentially an unscientific concept.

“Let’s not put weirdos on a pedestal.”

Again, “weirdo” is just an emotive prejudicial catch-all for someone different that you have a phobia about, and you’ve not been arguing for the lack of a pedestal, you have been denouncing him as an immoral sexual fetishist polluting the minds of children for his pleasure (or lack of interest from adult audiences) or some other nefarious purpose, none of which you’ve shown any evidence of. You argue that the law should force you to be tolerant despite what you actually favour, your natural reactions. I hope you’re never in a position of political power.

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You know, L.S., your last comment is what I call a “fly trap”, a long-winded attempt to draw me into a dozen sticky, analytical discussions. I’m not biting. My common sense tells me that a man dressed like a ridiculous-looking woman is not a positive thing, either for women or children, and I’m not going to justify that view over and over and over again so that you can find defects in my logic and keep me arguing for a month. I’m not interested.

Drag queens are adult entertainment — let them perform for adults, not children who might accept their behavior as normal instead of seeing that they are strange people expressing a sexual fetish which isn’t healthy or accurate.

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‘You know, L.S., your last comment is what I call a “fly trap”, a long-winded attempt to draw me into a dozen sticky, analytical discussions. I’m not biting.’

No, it was a long-winded attempt to get you to recognise an analytical discussion and engage in some analytical thinking. You’re not “biting”, clearly.

“My common sense tells me”

You’ve been saying it was your revulsion that told you, and encouraging me to trust my revulsion. You can’t now say that’s “common sense” – well, I suppose you can, since your method of coming to conclusions is unfortunately pretty common.

” that a man dressed like a ridiculous-looking woman is not a positive thing, either for women or children, and I’m not going to justify that view over and over and over again”

You haven’t “justified” it. You’ve repeated it over and over again in response to my challenge to say what is actually harmful about it. The conversation could be summarized as, “What’s harmful about it?” – “It’s bad” – “But what’s bad about it?” – “It’s sick!” – “But what?” – “I’m not going to analyse that!”

OK, remain ignorant.

” so that you can find defects in my logic and keep me arguing for a month. I’m not interested.”

Finding defects in our logic is how we improve our logic. Other people are really useful for doing that. I hoped I might be useful, and only after you complained that I hadn’t responded to any of your first comment, which I didn’t do straight away because I had a feeling it would go something like it has and because you have a right to hold your opinions.

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I must admit that I’m a bit baffled by Drag Queen Story Hour. I don’t understand the attraction, but neither do I understand the outrage. No one is being forced to go to these events. Parents and children are choosing to go. So what, exactly, is the argument for not letting them do it? It makes me nervous when anyone substitutes their judgment about what’s good for kids for the judgment of their parents.

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Actually, no, Chris. The children don’t have a choice. I suppose, however, that if a child told his mother that he didn’t want to go, the mother wouldn’t force him.

Here’s the logic of Drag Queen Story Hour: Drag queens are essentially performers who want to be seen, but there aren’t enough adult venues for them to stay in the lime light, so they dreamed up the idea that they could read stories for (perform for) children. The problem isn’t that they are harming the kids. Some people, like me, feel that drag queens are not good role models. Most of them dress in tight cocktail dresses with heavy makeup, huge hair and sometimes cleavage (i.e., like prostitutes). Others dress up like fairy god mothers. In either case, the drag queens are representing what women are to children, and I think it’s a distorted image. The drag queens, in my opinion, are conveying the message to children that it is okay for one group to make fun of another group.

I’m not saying that drag should be illegal. But to the extent that I have a voice, I think that drag should stay in the night clubs and theaters and not be pawned off on children as some kind of diversity, which I don’t think it is. In my view, drag is a sexual fetish. Let the kids wait until they are teenagers to learn about the strange world of adults’ sexual fetishes.

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But the parents have a choice–that’s my point. This isn’t the same as a compulsory curriculum in schools. It’s the parents’ choice to bring their kids to this event. Are you saying that other people should substitute their judgment for that of parents?

Do you have reason to believe that the content of story hour is the same as the content in a drag cub? I would be very surprised if that were the case or if there were anything sexual about it.

You’re certainly free to have your opinions about drag queens. But since no one is being forced to go to these events, I think you need to respect that parents have the right to make their own choices.

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The councils are using taxpayer’s money, and that is an issue. Library events should be inclusive. Whether anyone likes it or not, drag for children is controversial, and therefore the event is not inclusive. It is exclusive to a single subset of parents. It alienates too many people to suggest it is for the benefit of a wide-range of families.

It is no good shaming people for their feelings on it (and I’m not suggesting you are). Sometimes an idea just doesn’t work and a performer must accept that.

Any business person must review their ideas, work out what is and isn’t working and make changes. They should listen to their ‘customers’ (library users, in this instance). That’s good business. The plan here seems to be to bulldoze right on through, whilst branding the feelings of many parents as some kind of homophobic prejudice. I don’t think that is acceptable, neither do I suspect the presumed accusation is representative of parental concerns.

Many parents have legitimate concerns and have written to councils to express these (I’m not talking about the protestors, only letter-writers). Why does the performer not address parental concerns professionally? So much for love and tolerance. How can bridges be built if one side entirely gaslights and slanders the other? I think this demonstrates a complete lack of respect for a whole range of parents who were/are completely entitled to outline their problems with the event, if their money is used to fund it. This, to me, is the definition of acting in ‘bad faith’.

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Are the events not inclusive? Is anyone turned away from them? If no one comes, I’m pretty sure, they will eliminate the events, but at present it seems that people are coming, so what’s the problem? If some people choose to stay away, then that’s their choice, but I don’t see why they should be able to impose their choice on others. Your message seems to be, “This seems unwholesome and subversive to me, and so I won’t bring my children. And I think that other parents and children should also be prevented from going.” If this was the only event sponsored by the library, then I think your point about taxpayers’ money being spent would make sense. But surely there are other events and other times that parents could take their children to the library.

You write, “Why does the performer not address parental concerns professionally? So much for love and tolerance. How can bridges be built if one side entirely gaslights and slanders the other?”

What do you mean by this? What parental concerns should the performer address? And what do you mean by saying that one side “gaslights and slanders” the other? In what way are the performers gaslighting or slandering anyone?

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