The War on Drag Queens and Story Time

Akasha L Van Cartier has been doing Drag Story Time in the Pittsburgh area for years. Photo by G Michael Beigay.

Facts: drag queen story time was invented in 2015 by a woman named Michelle Tea who felt that story time events at libraries were too heteronormative. Another reason was that we needed to get kids back to children’s stories rather than new media and social media. Hence the idea to get kids back into libraries. That is a noble effort.

Drag Queen Story Time quickly caught on, and at one point there were 35 organized groups putting libraries and drag queens together. Additionally, individual drag queens around the country connected with their local libraries and asked if they could do their own story hours, including here in Pittsburgh. In all that time, now 8 years, there have been no problems between drag queens and children. It has been a successful program. 

And then came the Republicans. Republicans are now using drag queens as cultural-political pawns. Their argument: we’re confusing our children.

Hmm…. let’s look at that a little. So a man dressed up in a costume is confusing and dangerous to children? Guess that means we’ll have to ban Ronald McDonald since he’s been known to do these story times. Heaven forbid that after seeing Ronald McDonald your child will want to wear an orange wig, orange lipstick, and an orange clown suit. And speaking of clowns, what about all the clowns that have done story time? Has that led to numerous children having a fear of clowns? Where are all the anti-clown legislations?

So taking this at its core: Republicans believe that just being in the same space with a man in a woman’s outfit will totally confuse a child’s mind. Can I give you one word here: Halloween! On that one day/night men dress as women, women dress as men, and others dress as professionals like doctors even though they are not.

All the hubbub that Republicans are causing leaves us with one conclusion. If those Republicans can’t raise children that can distinguish between real and make-believe, I’d like to know what is going on in their private houses. Clearly, their priorities about what to teach their children are not sensible.

We know from numerous surveys over scores of years that the number one fantasy of heterosexual men is to dress up in women’s clothing, specifically lingerie. So is this coming from a place deep inside their very own guilty self-hate? 

If you think I’m far off the mark, know this: two of the anti-drag pieces of legislation last week were passed by Republican straight men who have been photographed in drag. And the list of Republicans who do drag is much larger than Democrats. You’ve even got one Rudy Giuliani in full drag with a guy named Donald Trump, who tells Rudy he’s a beautiful woman and gives him a couple kisses. Yep, you can Youtube it yourself. And then there’s Republican drag queen-in-chief in Congress, George Santos. 

If you google “Republicans in drag”, you soon discover that Republican elected officials in places like Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee have done drag. I’m sure you now get the idea of all the hilarious Republican hypocrisy coming from Red States. Republican drag queens are taking over our state legislatures.

Dear Republicans: move away from your personal shame and guilt. Accept yourselves. Take pride in your drag and do something good with it, like Drag Queen Story Time.

Mark Segal is an American journalist. He is the founder and publisher of Philadelphia Gay News and has won numerous journalism awards for his column "Mark My Words," including best column by The National Newspaper Association, Suburban Newspaper Association and The Society of Professional Journalists.