Luke W. Henderson, Guest Writer
The popularity of Drag Queen Storytime, an event hosted by many St. Louis libraries where drag queens read and sing songs with young children, brought out many who felt that exposing children to drag performers was somehow damaging them. According to the Riverfront Times, the protest had been planned about 3 weeks prior with it stating “What could be more important to do on a Saturday afternoon than fight for our children while connecting with other like-minded people?” The organizers wanted protestors to come in their most patriotic gear, which appeared to be lacking at the time, and hand out brochures on gender dysphoria. Despite the positive benefits of teaching kids acceptance of people who are different and that they are in fact, just a person, the protestors gathered outside of the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library to display their contempt.
The protestors had many arguments plastered on their signs from the typical “Stop sexualizing our kids” and “Let our kids be kids” to the vaguer “Children would rather have their own parents read to them.” The event saw many religious people represented with one woman singing a religious song while pacing with her sign and a couple wearing scarves with Jewish insignias. One man wearing an American Guard (a nationalist organization that has had many members with connections to white nationalist groups according to the Anti-Defamation League) was also in attendance. The small crowd also attracted a counter protest by local drag queens and queer allies who were proudly shouting through a microphone, “Queers are welcome here!”
Fortunately, the library had security posted at all entrances, so the event would not be ruined for those attending. The protestors seemed to have only brought more attention to those supporting the event, for the room was packed with every seat taken and dozens of kids excitedly waiting to hear stories from Maxie Glamour in all of her blue haired glory. After her introduction, one of the kids eagerly cried out “I like your dress” to which Maxie replied to liking the little girl’s dress. The event was clearly a hit with the kids.
They began by asking Glamor some of the typical questions a kid might ask, “What’s you favorite ice cream?” (the vegan Ben and Jerry’s she replied), and “What animal would you be in a zoo?” (a squirrel so that she could visit all of the animals). She also was extremely comedic throughout the event. During her reading of “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates,” a story involving a child t-rex that couldn’t make friends because she kept eating them, she cracked “I know institutional education is rough, but please don’t eat your classmates.” Later when she read the dance book “Monster Boogie” she encouraged the kids to make a really scary face “and scare all of the protestors out there.”
The event concluded with Glamor leading everyone in a polka song where she had one half of the audience be tubas, making “oompahs,” and the other be accordions doing a syncopated rhythm while she sang in a joyful pitter-patter on top. The applause was great and there were smiles a plenty to be seen around the room. Despite those who tried to convince the public that this will ruin children and shirk responsibility, the only emotion that could be seen all around was happiness.