Every once in a while, I stumble upon a story that makes me feel better about humanity. Such gifts may be few and far between these days, but they still fill me with joy. It’s good to know that there are decent, intelligent, caring people on this planet who are doing their best to make the world a better place. I particularly enjoy these people when they come up with creative, innovative, and even controversial ways to have a positive impact.
An interview I heard recently on CBC Radio (listen for yourself here) had me grinning from ear to ear on my long commute home the other night. Tom Power interviewed Lil Miss Hot Mess, a fabulously charismatic drag queen, about her latest children’s book, If You’re a Drag Queen and You Know It.
That alone would have been enough to make me happy, but during her interview, she also mentioned an organization that she is a part of called Drag Queen Story Hour. It’s a nonprofit organization that is, as their website explains, “drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.”
I was surprised there was not a chapter of this organization here in Seattle. Seattle is usually on the cutting edge when it comes to being inclusive. And I for one would move heaven and earth to attend a Drag Queen Story Hour. I think it would be a delight.
Of course there has been pushback from conservatives who can’t get past the stupid notion that the entire LGBTQ community was put on this earth solely to prey on children and create more “members”. Ignorance like that is the very reason we need such story hours. If your children are so easily influenced that they spend the rest of their lives acting contrary to their natural tendencies, whatever those may be, then those kids have much worse problems than those that even the most evil Drag Queen Story Hour from hell could bring out.
These events are not about grooming. They’re about teaching children that there are all kinds of people in this world, as will always be the case, and it’s better to approach those who differ from us with kindness and love rather than hostility and hate if we are to have a happy, healthy society. It’s about teaching them that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to like pink or enjoy sequins or be interested in things that other kids might not be interested in. If you want to be a rocket scientist, go for it! If you want to see what it’s like to paint your toenails, go for it! If your creativity is unlike that of your siblings, that’s fine, too. And, above all else, being mean to someone who is different means that you’re a bully, and that’s not good. Own your hair! Love your freckles! Be who you are! If you like wearing knee socks with sandals and shorts… Well, okay, that’s a bridge too far, but you get the idea.
In this turbulent, hate-filled age that we find ourselves in, it’s important that we teach our children to be comfortable in their own skin and remind them that they should allow other people to be comfortable in theirs as well. I’m here to tell you, every child feels, on some level, that they don’t fit in. Too short, too tall, too thin, too fat, too queer, too straight, too nerdy, and never, ever cool enough. That’s heartbreaking.
I, for one, long for the day when there is no “in” in which we are all expected to “fit”. Wouldn’t that be a freakin’ relief? Imagine a world where everybody minded their own business and didn’t judge or bully others. I’d love to no longer have to put up with the constant pressure to change who I am. We should all feel like we’re enough. None of us should have to walk around feeling flawed or broken. We should be loved for who we are.
So I say, three cheers for Drag Queen Story Hour! I’m going to try to get the Drag Queens in our area to start a chapter! I’d be their biggest fan.
In other news:
On this day in 1969, the police once again raided New York’s Stonewall Inn, and its patrons had finally had enough. On this day in 1970, the first Pride Parade was held in that same city. Today, take a moment to remember how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. Happy Pride!
Incidentally, I’m adding Lil Miss Hot Mess’ books to my Amazon wish list called Children’s Books for Clark Lake Park Little Free Library, so if the spirit moves you, review that diverse list and purchase one or more of the books that you’ll find there for the library! Thank you!
I wrote an actual book, too, and you can own it! How cool is that? http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5