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I'm honestly curious about this sudden surge in drag events for children, whether it's story time in libraries or dress-up events.

Are drag queens the new clowns? Is it a quick and easy way for institutions like libraries to appear diverse and woke in a very visible way? Why drag queens specifically?

Is it an attempt at an intentionally challenging image, to present the most visible and garish image of "queerness" alongside children?

I'm not a fan of drag. I think it's misogynistic but I also don't really care what gay men do in their own spaces.

What are your thoughts?

I'm honestly curious about this sudden surge in drag events for children, whether it's story time in libraries or dress-up events. Are drag queens the new clowns? Is it a quick and easy way for institutions like libraries to appear diverse and woke in a very visible way? Why drag queens specifically? Is it an attempt at an intentionally challenging image, to present the most visible and garish image of "queerness" alongside children? I'm not a fan of drag. I think it's misogynistic but I also don't really care what gay men do in their own spaces. What are your thoughts?

89 comments

[–] goodyusername Team Terflair 42 points

I'll take a shot at this, it's something I've thought about quite a bit, as this is my field.

I agree that drag is misogynist, and you would think that librarians, who are mostly women, would be sensitive to this. Unfortunately, like everywhere, the predominant style is lib-fem style feminism. You hear a lot of complaining on the ground that there are more men in higher paying positions in the field, you can't really ignore that, it's quite obvious. But there is no activism around this. And a few years ago when sexual harassment training became a mandate, I thought the situation that afflicts libraries--harassment from the public towards library staff--would finally be acknowledged. It is ubiquitous. Yet this was barely addressed. It will never fail to astonish me how much misogyny is tolerated in society.

Meanwhile--I'm speaking about public libraries, primarily, but this is true of many school libraries, as well--we've had to justify our budgets, and make a case for why libraries still matter in an increasingly digitized world. Fewer and fewer people need to go to the library to get reading material or to look stuff up. Programs and events enable a library to get people in through the door, and many are not connected to books or reading in any way: Big Truck Day, Psychic "Investigators", etc. I've seen a few fads over the years. For a while every library new/renovated library had a cafe, then 3D printers and maker-spaces were hot, Libraries of Things (borrow a drill or a cake pan!), it's unending. It's expensive to build, maintain and staff these kinds of operations, and you don't see library budgets increasing in many places. Meanwhile you're trying to balance how to accommodate homeless people--sorry, the unhoused-- with the needs of business people who need faster WiFi, getting the staff trained on how to administer NarCan, and running a coding academy...

Don't get me wrong, I love libraries, and most of my colleagues are smart, well-meaning people who have chosen a low-paying profession because they love books and reading, too. But here's the thing: if you're not doing it for the money, and there's maybe not as compelling reason for your profession to exist anymore, you ennoble yourself--we do it to keep information free! to fight censorship! We are the bulwark against racism, the great equalizer of society, all are welcome here! Meanwhile it's 2014, RuPaul and Drag Brunches have become a thing, and you hear that DQST is getting big turnouts, and the only complainers are wild-eyed right-wing Christians from the next town over who don't use the library anyway, so who cares? You get to look like the reasonable, inclusive kind people, love-is-love supporters, the naysayers look like the prudish scolds. (I'm speaking not for myself, I never hosted a DQST, but to give you an idea of the thought process behind those who did and do.)

Like everything else it's a fad that is running its course, and I think it's almost over. It's not a novelty anymore, and gender identity theory is being questioned more widely, not just by conservatives. Pre-pandemic, there was a library running a drag camp, and hosting family drag nights, I don't see that being re-scheduled.