Perverse Readings

Your Kids Should Not Check Out Drag Queen Story Hour


In the fall of 2015, the first Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) was held at the San Francisco Public Library. A joint project of queercore writer Michelle Tea and San Francisco queer arts group RADAR Productions, DQSH is, according to its website (, "just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children." In 2018, RADAR passed the program on to the San Francisco Public Library and local chapters to manage.1 Libraries, by and large, have been cooperative, and in five years, DQSH has grown to more than fifty independently funded and managed chapters worldwide.

Events are designed for children ages 3–8, and usually last about 45 minutes. Typically, one or more men, dressed in drag, will read a few books to the children, sing a few songs, and do an activity, such as a craft, face-painting, or dress-up. Most events take place in libraries, but schools and bookstores may host them as well. Some DQSH events have seen attendance numbers in the hundreds.2 The DQSH organization also publishes its own material for children such as The Dragtivity Book to "help adults and kids explore drag, gender, and identity together."

Reason for Surveillance:

According to the cast of "RuPaul's Drag Race," a popular VH1 drag show, drag first appeared in America in vaudeville and then found a home in Prohibition-era underground gay and transvestite bars.3 As the sexual revolution has advanced, the "art form" has gone public, and now the men want to bring their show to children.

DQSH is said to be about acceptance, respect for all, and celebrating diversity and freedom of expression. If the men in drag are asking that we treat them as human beings worthy of dignity and respect, then yes, let us fully and clearly affirm our respect for them as men created in the image of God. But if they're asking us to celebrate what they do, well, that's another matter. Drag has always been, and still is, a risqué form of adult entertainment. With DQSH, we are being asked to accept and celebrate that which is risqué and burlesque for small children. This is something no child-loving adult should ever do. To sexualize children is to exploit them, and to endorse DQSH is to participate in the confusion and exploitation.

Most Brazen Affront:

Why, we might ask, are men who dress up like women taking an interest in other people's children? According to the DQSH website, one reason is that they want to be role models.

DQSH captures the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and gives kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models. In spaces like this, kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions and imagine a world where people can present as they wish, where dress up is real.

On top of the fact that a man dressed like a woman is in itself a bizarre spectacle, which has always been part of the allure of a drag show, drag is a genre of performance that trades in the sexually suggestive, provocative, and freakish. DQSH events have included pornographic themes, twerking, and BDSM-wear.4 Some DQSH "queens" have been exposed as convicted sex offenders and pedophiles.5 These are not the character traits of role models.

Children are young, defenseless, and malleable. All DQSH does is confuse them and subject them to the lusts of lecherous adults. These dress-up shows are unabashed grooming on steroids.


 is Deputy Editor of Salvo and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #53, Summer 2020 Copyright © 2024 Salvo |


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