WHAT IS DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR?
Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is just what it sounds like—drag queens reading stories to children in libraries, schools, and bookstores. 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.
“Drag Queen Story Hour is a fun and important program that celebrates diversity in the way that children may dress and act. It encourages children to look beyond gender stereotypes and embrace unfettered exploration of self. Programs like DQSH encourage acceptance of difference and help to prevent bullying, while providing an enjoyable literary experience.”
—Judy Zuckerman, Director of Youth and Family Services, Brooklyn Public Library
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DRAG QUEEN STORY HOUR LIVESTREAM EXPERIENCE
Drag Queen Story Hour is committed to creating diverse, accessible, and safe spaces, so we wanted to share a brief update on our programming amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Most importantly, all DQSH events are produced locally and independently, so DQSH chapters and event organizers will determine whether events can safely move forward or if it’s better to cancel/postpone. We are strongly encouraging all organizers to consult with their local libraries/venues, governments, and community leaders, to take into account public health measures, and to consider the needs of our most at-risk community members (including elderly, disabled, chronically ill, and low-income folks).
To our audiences: Please check your “local listings” (including the FB event page and DQSH chapter’s or venue’s social media accounts) before heading out to see whether an event is taking place as originally advertised. And of course, if you’re not feeling well, please stay home or seek medical care — and know that we’re sending you rainbows of quick recovery!
(last updated March 12, 2020)
“What an amazing way to teach individuality, empathy, and acceptance! Drag Queen Story Hour gave my first graders a fun and interactive platform to talk and think about social and emotional issues like acceptance, being yourself, and loving who you are. Through books, songs, arts and crafts, and movement activities, they explored these issues and had an amazing time doing it! During our debrief after DQSH, they were preaching the incredible lessons they had learned, like “It’s ok to be different,” and “There’s no such thing as ‘boy’ things or ‘girl’ things.” I was proud to be able to have DQSH at my school and will definitely be planning another story hour for next year!”
—Alexis Hernandez, first grade teacher at PS 118, the Maurice Sendak Community School (Brooklyn)
Drag Queen Story Hour events are happening all over the world at libraries, schools, bookstores, museums, summer camps, afterschool programs, and other community spaces! Each chapter is independently operated and funded. Click on the links below to connect with your local chapter.
If your community doesn’t yet have a chapter, contact [email protected] to request info about organizing your own event or chapter.
“Self-acceptance and self-love are what lead me to do drag. Once I learned how to embrace my femininity, I wanted to explore that and express it in a creative way. Drag is the perfect outlet for me to do so. Through DQSH, I hope to be a positive, queer role model for kids. It’s important kids know that it’s okay to be different. Diversity is part of what makes humanity beautiful, and I’m just one example or facet of what that looks like.”
—Cholula Lemon, storyteller, DQSH NYC
Organize your own events
If you don’t yet have a DQSH chapter in your community and would like to set one up, contact [email protected].
Please include the city and state you’re located in and in what capacity you would like to be involved (ie: performer, organizer, educator, venue).
After a scheduled phone call and completed vetting process, you will be sent a New Chapter Onboarding Packet which contains guidelines and best practices for organizing your own events and starting your own official DQSH chapter.
Please do not organize your own DQSH events without reaching out to us first.
“It’s really beautiful to have drag queens painting children’s faces and telling stories. It’s a kid’s world to be very imaginative. If children were allowed they would dress up every day. I don’t think they’re thinking about gender assumptions. They’re just seeing the drag queens as other people who are being imaginative.”
—Juli Delgado Lopera, co-founder of DQSH and former Executive Director of RADAR Productions
Support Drag Queen Story Hour and show off your inner drag-queen-in-training!
The Dragtivity Book
The Dragtivity Book is an educational tool for engaging kids in conversation about gender and identity. Kids often have questions after attending DQSH events, and sometimes parents and educators don’t have all the answers. The DQSH NYC chapter created The Dragtivity Book in conjunction with Mor Erlich, creator of Sez Me — the acclaimed LGBTQ multidisciplinary educational program for all ages — to help kids and adults continue to explore topics of gender and identity together.
“Drag Queen Story Hour is a wonderful program that helps to bring acceptance of diversity to our communities. At the most recent DQSH at The Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library, the presenter, Black Benatar, read ‘My Princess Boy,’ by Cheryl Kilodavis. When she finished reading, she asked the children (about 40 of them), “If you met a Princess Boy, would you make fun of him?” and all the children said, “No!” Then she asked them if they would ask him to play with them, and they all said, “Yes!” I had tears in my eyes, it was so beautiful and moving. This program is more important than ever.”
—Bix Warden, Children’s Librarian, San Francisco Public Library
“Tall Tales with True Queens” is a short film directed by Kristina Budelis and Leandro Badalotti that offers a taste of Drag Queen Story Hour from our NYC chapter. As 9-year-old attendee Lilli says in the film, “Drag queens should go on and never stop, because I think it’s a really cool program.” The film was scheduled to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival (canceled due to the pandemic) and premiered on the LGBTQ news site them.
Drag Queen Story Hours have been covered in a whole bunch of media, from the New York Times to The Guardian, Vice, and beyond! Check out some of our favorite stories below.
Drag Queen Story Hour has also appeared in: NBC News, CBS News, Associated Press, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail (UK), KQED Arts, School Library Journal, International Business Times (Australia), Attitude Magazine (UK), Tablet, OutBuzz, A Plus, Soule, Illustrated Impact, Brooklyn Paper, Thirteen’s Metrofocus, NY1, WNYC, Fox 5 NYC, and more!
Write About Drag queen story hour
If you’re a reporter who would like to cover one of our upcoming events, please reach out to the local chapter or contact [email protected].
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“Drag Queen Story Hour is a safe space, and it is a reminder that for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider that they can find community—both in real time, and in the escape of literature.”
—Miss Terra Cotta Sugarbaker, DQSH Atlanta
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Winner will be announced October 21st, 2020.
Please note that this newsletter is for the Drag Queen Story Hour global network. Some chapters may use our list to send local event announcements monthly (based on your zip code or geolocation), while others maintain their own email lists separately.
“DQSH opens a child’s eyes to what being different is all about,” says Elektra, who recently read a book called Everyone Is Different. “It has to start somewhere. I wish, when I was growing up, there was a program like this where they can explain and teach children to accept anyone… It doesn’t matter what gender you are, or where you come from, we’re all people, we’re all human, and we should love ourselves first.”
—Angel Elektra, DQSH Westchester and NYC
In just the past few years, Drag Queen Story Hour has gone from a few big cities to a growing network of more than 50 chapters worldwide. Unfortunately, nearly everywhere we shine the haters follow. But we refuse to be silenced! Now more than ever we need your help to fight back against anti-LGBTQ censorship and attacks.
Or contact your local chapter to make a donation!