‘It’s like saying kids shouldn’t listen to Lady Gaga’: Drag Race queens hit back at drag story time critics
The unstoppable rise of RuPaul’s Drag Race has put the art of drag if not in the mainstream, then right on its fringes.
Though Drag Race and nightclub acts are very much aimed at an adult audience, it’s become obvious in the last few years that these bright, colourful performers also have a natural home in front of children.
In the US, author Michelle Tea has been organising Drag Queen Story Hour events for the past five years, inviting drag queens into libraries and bookshops to “give kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models”.
Similar events have sprung up worldwide, including in the UK, Ireland and Australia. But sadly many have been met with resistance, protest, and even violence.
Opponents of the events suggest that they are inappropriate for children, leaning on the age-old (and baseless) diatribe that children aren’t safe around LGBT+ people.
Despite these attacks the events persevere, and drag continues to wow a young audience.
At the first-ever DragCon UK, PinkNews taken aback by just how many young people had made the pilgrimage to London’s Olympia.
Teenage girls in particular seemed to have flocked to the event in their masses, including Katie, 15.
To her, drag “is just a way for people to express themselves and have fun with what they’re doing” and to “enjoy their lives the way they want to”.
Gothy Kendoll, the 22-year-old Drag Race UK queen whose Instagram-ready aesthetic makes her a natural hit with teenagers, told PinkNews it “means everything” to see Katie and other young people at the event.
It’s amazing to see these kids being supported by their parents, coming and having the best time of their lives.
She suggested that the attraction is an obvious one for youths who might be trying to figure out their own identities.
“A lot of kids identify with dressing up, with exploring gender and sexuality. To see their families supporting them means the world.”
For Sum Ting Wong, the idea of stopping young people from enjoying drag is ridiculous.
“It’s like saying kids shouldn’t be allowed to listen to Lady Gaga. It’s an expression, it’s art.”
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Laila McQueen acknowledged that certain drag performances aren’t appropriate for children, but said that this was just one part of the spectrum.
“I think there’s a wide variety of appropriate drag, inappropriate drag, political drag, fun drag and educational drag, and I think there is a part in that spectrum that is appropriate for younger kids.”
“There’s a plethora of children here [at DragCon]… it’s situational. But I don’t think drag is ‘not for’ anyone.”
Jodie Harsh agreed that there are styles of drag that appeal to different groups.
“Drag is for people of all ages, kids love drag.”
Responding directly to anti-LGBT+ critics, she said: “It’s not going to ‘turn’ kids any certain way.
“It’s just a lovely, harmless cultural moment, and luckily the parents here are open minded and cool about allowing their children to appreciate the art form.”