Issues

Brooklyn Public Library Hosts ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’

'Classic tales read by drag queens'

The main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library / Getty Images

The Brooklyn Public Library is hosting almost monthly "Drag Queen Story Hour" events that teach "gender fluidity" to preschoolers.

"Drag Queen Story Hour puts the rainbow in reading [and] also captures the imagination and play of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models!" according to a listing for an event last weekend posted on the library website.

The events began last fall, and are modeled off a program created by Michelle Tea, an "author of five memoirs," in San Francisco.

One of the first story hours in Brooklyn featured the drag queen "Lil Miss Hot Mess," reading from Tatterhood, a book of "feminist folktales." Little Miss Hot Mess got her start in a gay bar in San Francisco.

"In the spirit of unfettered exploration of self that great books can prompt, the Feminist Press brings a new reading series for children to the Brooklyn Public Library, featuring classic tales read by drag queens," the Brooklyn Public Library said in September.

"Drag Queen Story Hour breaks down our most stifling ideas about gender while lifting up play, fierceness, and femininity for all," said Jennifer Baumgardner, executive director and publisher of the Feminist Press.

The Brooklyn Public Library says drag queens and children have much in common, because they both "love dressing up and all things sparkly and fancy!"

Another story hour featured Ona Louise, who "grew up in the buckle of the Bible Belt, but always dreamed of bright lights and big city living." Now the drag queen is the "caretaker of the garden of hopes and dreams, watering the young budding minds of the future."

Infants and preschoolers attend the story time, where drag queens change the lyrics to "Wheels on the Bus" to "hips that go swish, swish, swish" and "heels that go higher, higher, higher," according to New York's PIX11 News.

The New York Times printed a glowing review last month of a story time led by "Harmonica Sunbeam," who read from a book about a boy who wears a dress to school.

"I saw a Facebook post about it, and as soon as I saw it, I said, ‘Oh, this is what I've been waiting for," Rachel Aimee, the Drag Queen Story Hour coordinator for New York, told the Times.

Request for comment on whether city funding goes to the program was not returned. The Times reported that Aimee does not get paid.

The Brooklyn Public Library said earlier this year that the program receives support through a partnership with Zipcar.

"Support for this program is made possible by Brooklyn Public Library's partnership with Zipcar," the library said. "The Zipcar program raises funds for BPL branches and allows patrons to reserve shared vehicles at their local libraries."