Drag Queen Story Hour in English library divides opinion

Some people aren't so happy about the Drag Queen Story Hour at Taunton Library

lgbt, gay
(Photo: Unsplash/Tristan Billet) |

Drag Queen Story Hour has been a hotly contested affair in U.S. public libraries for some time now.  Over in the UK, it has been quietly touring libraries for the past two years without much fuss - until now.

The upcoming Drag Queen Story Hour at the public library in Taunton, Somerset, has split opinion over the appropriateness of the event for young children. 

Some of the critics are feminists, angry at what they see as the "misappropriation" of the image of women by men.  Others are parents or other concerned adults, worried that the drag culture is too sexualized for young children or that it is wrong for them to be exposed to men dressed, often provocatively, as women. 

On February 2, young children will be settling down to hear drag queen Alyssa Van Delle read LGBT kids' books, including The Flower Girl Wore Celery, about a flower girl at a lesbian wedding. 

Other books penciled in for the reading include And Tango Makes Three, about two gay penguins who become dads to a baby penguin, and Princess Smartypants Breaks the Rules, about a rebellious princess who encourages other kids to disregard the rules.

The event is being held in partnership with Somerset Libraries as part of their LGBTQ+ History Month celebration. 

Announcing the event, Taunton Library said: "Alyssa Van Delle will be joining the library team to dazzle and shine with her Sicilian charm, and to celebrate all things LGBTQ."

The announcement on Facebook triggered some angry comments. 

"Appropriation of womahoonhood to further some iman's dea of 'creativity' is offensive to many women. We're not fair game, we won't put up with it! [SIC]" wrote one user. 

Another person wrote: "Do you think that is appropriate to expose children to sexual material? Would Taunton library also be willing to offer a platform to a performer whose message contradicted that of Alyssa Van Delle (for the sake of equality and inclusion)?"

Another critic on Facebook wrote that drag queens "shouldn't be in our schools and libraries reading to our children." 

The debate also carried out on Twitter, where one person raised concerns over the content of the storybooks. 

"This is not suitable for young children, especially when they are reading them stories which tell them they may have been born in the wrong body, an impossibility," they wrote.

Despite the criticism, Taunton Library is going ahead with the event and Drag Queen Story Hour UK even added another drag queen to the line-up. 

"Due to continued interest in the show, and the number of people expected to attend - we've decided to increase the number of performers on the day!" it said.

"We're pleased to be joined by Taunton's own Kurt Sovain, part of Brizzle Boyz Drag Kings." 

According to the BBC, Drag Queen Story Hour UK has put on around 50 shows around the country over the last two years, reaching an estimated 8,000 children. 

Event organizer Tom Canham told the BBC he was "quite surprised" by the strong reaction to the Taunton event and that the shows were age appropriate.

As for the children, "they love it," he said, adding, "There's glitter, feather boas and they think it's amazing."

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