Drag Story Hour NYC, a program that allows drag performers to read books to children and parents in various venues across the city, has been celebrating diversity and expression with a series of events in May. The program aims to give kids the confidence to be themselves and to see beyond the gender binary.Embed from Getty Images
On May 17, the program hosted a special event at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan’s West Village, where several local drag artists read picture books that touched on themes of identity and difference. The event was attended by hundreds of people, including some prominent politicians and activists, who praised the initiative and resisted the protesters outside.
“The joy and the love that’s in the atmosphere is just palpable,” said Corey Westover, 36, who brought her three-year-old daughter to the event.
New York Attorney General Leticia James and City Council speaker Adrienne Adams were among the speakers who expressed their support for Drag Story Hour NYC and their opposition to the anti-LGBTQ groups that have been trying to shut down the program.
“Drag Story Hour is really about connecting with kids, helping them to understand identity and intersectionality,” said Adams, who ended her speech with: “story hour … drag on.”
The program has also been hosting virtual events throughout Pride Month, featuring bilingual readings in Spanish, Cantonese, and French, as well as drag makeup tutorials and book clubs for older kids and teens.
Drag Story Hour NYC is part of a global network of similar programs that started in San Francisco in 2015. The program has faced backlash from conservative and religious groups who claim that it exposes children to inappropriate content and influences.
However, the organizers and performers of Drag Story Hour NYC say that they are not trying to indoctrinate anyone, but rather to celebrate diversity and foster empathy.
“Something that I think is so special and expansive about drag is that I can be anything,” said Professor Lionel Longlegs, a drag performer who read a book called “From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea” by Kai Cheng Thom.
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