I’m trying to imagine why one person looks around at this particular moment and decides that a drag queen reading story books to children is a threat that must be thwarted.
I know that minds spin in the many ways and places our children are harmed: gun violence is now the leading cause of death for American children; COVID-19 forms continue to evolve; The American West is running out of water and children are suffocating from the smoke of wildfires; Nearly half of all Americans live in areas with dangerous air quality levels; The proportion of high school students reporting persistent sadness or hopelessness has increased by 40% over the past decade.
Persistent sadness or despair.
I know some of the scariest and hardest-to-pin-down hazards live terrifyingly close, but they’re out of reach of parents—and on phones and other devices that are rarely anything beyond our kids’ fingers. are more than an inch.
I know our hearts are stretched and tired and sad.
But drag queens? Reading story books? And playing bingo? And creating balloon animals, with joy and laughter and fervor and a spark as well as imagination and curiosity and an open heart and flexible thinking that will serve the youth in their every endeavor?
There is no danger. If anything, a balm.
And yet. around illinoisLibraries and cafes and other venues that host family-friendly drag events Threatening and canceling shows And also cleaning from vandalism. The Lake in the Hills had a booming bakery and cafe Its windows were smashed and its walls were showered with hate messages Before it was scheduled to host “Starry Night Brunch Drag”, a sold-out event for families.
Similar threats and cancellations are taking place in the United States and the United Kingdom. In Florida, State Representative Anthony Sabatini called for legislation that would end the parental rights of adults who take their children to drag events.
“There seems to be a lot of confusion, like, drag has to be sexual,” artist Ginger Forrest told the Chicago Tribune. “And that’s not true at all. Our show specifically, we don’t wear revealing clothes. We don’t use slang. We don’t do songs that aren’t suitable for kids. So, basically, I Which will say, experience a show and see for yourself how magical it can be.”
Magic like a certain state in Florida? Where hundreds of millions of parents bring their kids each year to cheer on in the company of adults dressed as rats and ducks and chipmunks and princesses and whatever Goofy is?
Children don’t need everything to fit neatly into socially constructed rows. They need love And surprise. and hope. and new experiences. more stories. and radical acts of kindness.
So do it adult. Including the performing adults.
Life isn’t an old-timey carnival, where the dominant culture subdues those they’ve deemed misfits or less, and then charges admission to point and gawk at the crowd.
It is reprehensible that those who want to bring some joy and inclusivity and a sense of belonging to children will face threats. It’s ridiculous that policy makers dream up ways to punish parents who want their children to participate in that joy and inclusiveness and sense of belonging, parents who want their children to be full, tri- Know the dimensional humanity and the range and experiences of the people. Whom they share this earth with.
I don’t know how to make the world less scary for raising kids. I don’t know how to stop gun violence or how to solve the water crisis or even log into Snapchat, which kids probably don’t even use anymore.
I know we can love our children through this. And I know we can teach them humanity and curiosity and kindness towards others. And I know we can protect and nurture all those individuals who help us by teaching them humanity and curiosity and kindness toward others—no matter what those individuals are wearing.
If drag queen brunch isn’t your jam, you’re totally welcome to sit it out. The drag queens won’t hunt you down and force you to attend their blissful reverence. They are busy enjoying life and besides, your yelling will probably scare the kids.
If drag queen brunch is your jam — or, just as important, if your jam is a world where drag queen brunch is open and available and safe for anyone who wants to take part — now is a great time to show up. .
Show up for brunch. Show up for bingo. show to protest. Show up with a letter to the editor at a dinner party or a supportive post on social media or a voice of conscience and reason. Show up at the polls in November.
Fear and hate are loud and organized right now. I think they always have been. That doesn’t mean they have to win.
Heidi Stevens is a Tribune news service columnist. you can reach it [email protected]Find her on Twitter @heidistevens13 or join her Heidi Stevens’ Balancing Acts Facebook group.