The Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library started a program in which Drag Queens may volunteer to read to elementary age boys and girls. What started out as simple volunteer program has turned into large crowds standing outside the library of both protestors and supporters for the new program.
Once a month the library will host its one-hour storytelling, in which volunteers dress in drag and read to the elementary children. The volunteers did not discuss their sexual orientations or any other personal information, as they are just there to read aloud from a book. Many people are in favor for the program simply because someone is willing to read to their children. Also, the library is just doing its job by offering reading programs to the students of Evansville.
News about the event spread like wildfire, sparking the protestors. Outside the library, many would gather with signs to plead with the removal of the program. Some would chant, “Make America Great Again”, while others held signs. Because of the alarming threat to the program, the library began using local police to help prevent any outburst from protestors and to keep the library safe. A church in Oakland City responded to the Drag Queen Story Hour by changing their billboard to say, “Drags belong on a racetrack, not in our schools.” Although the church says their message is clear, some members of the church believe it promotes hate. Many people have taken to Facebook to share their opinions about the story hour. “They don’t need to be corrupting the little childrens’ minds,” says one man. Most of the hateful comments try to back up their claims by using the Bible. Many people are challenging those claims by stating that the Bible is about promoting love and not hate.
There are many supporters for the Drag Queen Story Hour. They believe the program is a great way to teach children the idea of acceptance of everyone. Some people forget that not all Drag Queens are part of the LGBTQ community. Dressing in drag has been around for quite some time. A lot of the supporters posted on Facebook, saying that if you are against drag, then you should not watch movies like the “Tyler Perry’s Madea Series”, “The Nutty Professor”, “Big Momma’s House”, and “White Chicks”. These movies all revolve around the main character, usually a male, dressing as the opposite sex/playing an opposite sex role throughout the whole movie. Not only were the adult supporters proclaiming their support, but even the young children attending the events were for it. One third grader stated that. “I just like that someone is reading to me. I like their pretty clothes and make up.” Parents have even claimed that their children simply don’t care who’s reading to them, but enjoy that someone is actually reading to them. The children don’t notice the drag dressing because they are not aware of the discrimination and negative connotation that dressing in drag has inquired.
The news of the Drag Queen Story Hour even reached a larger audience, making national news by Howard Stern, mentioning the event on his satellite radio show. He made a few comments in support of the event, saying “Everyone is uptight; Drag is fantastic- I love it!” He also said that he enjoys Ru Paul’s Drag Race. He believes that more public places should host event such as this.
Despite the backlash on the event, over 275 children and family members attended the last Drag Queen Story Hour. Due to capacity issues, an additional 150 children and family members were turned away. The library says that they plan to continue the event, but want to consider all opinions.