Drag Queen Story Hours Gaining Popularity Nationwide
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – March 29, 2019
A Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) was organized at the LGBT+ Center Orlando (The Center) last Thursday, March 21. Miss Gidget, also known as Rich Kuntz, was the hostess. The stories read focused on topics of inclusivity, body positivity, and/or diversity.
“It’s OK to be different, or missing a tooth, or two, or three; is anybody missing a tooth here?” Miss Gidget asked.
“Put it under your pillow, tooth fairy gives hundred dollar bills!”
The event made its debut at Orlando Fringe and was so well-received that The Center applied for and was awarded a mayoral matching grant to continue the series, the Orlando Sentinel wrote.
Drag Queen Story Hour was established in San Francisco in 2015, and has since spread across the US. For example, DQSH are held in Greenville County library of South Carolina featuring Princess Mocha and Rylee Hunty and a new Drag Queen Storytime has been scheduled for May in The Louisville Free Public Library, Kentucky.
Jonathan Hamilt, co-founder of Drag Queen Story Hour in New York, told the BBC they have seen "an exponential growth in the number of events in more conservative, rural and southern states over the last year."
"We have chapters in Nebraska, Indiana and Alabama. I think it is partly a reaction to the political landscape of the US right now and a need for more queer programming for children."
Earlier this month, a group called Mass Resistance told the media that it had been asking the City of Houston for months to disclose information about the drag queens. When requests went unanswered, they did their own digging and made an interesting connection.
A media spokesperson for the Freed-Montrose Library confirmed one of the program’s drag queens, Tatiana Mala Nina, is Alberto Garza, a 32-year-old child sex offender. In 2008, he was convicted of assaulting an 8-year-old boy.
According to trial documents, the child alleged that he had requested access to Mala-Nina’s bedroom to play a video game, and that Mala-Nina had obliged under the condition that the child remove his clothing. The child then claimed that Mala-Nina performed oral sex on him for a few seconds before requesting that he do the same to him. The child alleges that he did so, but stopped after a few seconds, feeling uncomfortable, and left the room.
“Most parents would not allow that individual to sit in this library and be held up as a role model to our children. Shame on you, Mayor (Sylvester) Turner!” said Tracy Shannon with Mass Resistance.
In a statement, the Houston Public Library admits they didn’t do a background check on Garza and said Garza will not be involved in any future library programs.
“If they had done their job and due diligence, if they had said wait...maybe it’s not a good idea to have a sex offender who at 200 pounds and 5-foot-11 assaulted an 8-year-old boy!” Shannon said.
However, the Houston Chronicle reported that in spite of this, the City of Houston had initiated plans to resume the program in the future, possibly as early as the summer of this year.
Drag Queen Story Time started in Houston in 2017 and Blackberri was one of the first drag queens to read to kids at a local public library.
"I want inspire kids that are just like me when I was growing up in a small Louisiana town that you can be a gay black kid. You can do whatever you want to do,” Blackberri said. “We’re promoting literacy.”
In the meantime, in order “to spread news literacy to library patrons state-wide,” the Microsoft Corporation, through its Defending Democracy Program, is sponsoring the installation of a special browser extension on computers in schools, universities, and libraries across the country, USAReally reported. The new browser extension filters out websites like USAReally, marking them with a special red badge. Microsoft has installed this extension on 700 of computers at 51 branches of the Hawaii State Public Library System. The Toledo Lucas County Public Library System has also joined the program.