Drag Queen Story Hour is a nonprofit organization that hosts programs in which drag queens read books to children that touch on gender identity and all forms of difference. The readings, which began in 2015, aim to teach acceptance, diversity and empathy to kids through the power of storytelling.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the queens would pop up in libraries, schools, museums and community centers to read to groups of children and provide fun educational experiences such as singing songs and doing arts and crafts activities.
But with stay-at-home orders, shuttered businesses and social distancing protocols, Drag Queen Story Hour went virtual, conducting live streams on Facebook and Instagram to continue to educate and entertain children. Not only has this provided a broader reach for the organization’s programming, but it has also increased accessibility for students.
“Introducing children to the idea of drag is really is what Drag Queen Story Hour is about,” Cholula Lemon, a drag queen and storyteller with the organization’s New York City chapter, tells Yahoo Life. “We tend to put people into boxes, especially children, from a very young age. We condition them to be this or that, like masculine or feminine, but truly the exploration of who kids are and who we are as people is, is what drag essentially is.”
Lemon says the essence of drag is to acknowledge and embrace differences in all forms. Since kids identify with playing dress-up and creating characters, she says that the children are excited to be read to by drag queens.
“What we hope that children gain from attending Drag Queen Story Hour is that they get to celebrate themselves and celebrate others, as they are,” Lemon says. “Even if they feel different, that they feel accepted and seen and loved and appreciated.”
Aside from its signature readings, Drag Queen Story Hour offers other virtual programs such as Bilingual Drag Story Hour, Drag Queen Story Hour for Kids With Autism and Other Special Needs and a Drag Queen Fashion Design Workshop.
“It’s been wonderful seeing the reception that we’ve gotten from schools and the library systems,” Lemon says. “This is the kind of programming that keeps people’s spirits alive.”
All upcoming programs are listed on the Drag Queen Story Hour NYC Facebook page. Additionally, DQSH-NYC also conducts private events for schools, business and community organizations on Zoom.
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