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 other community spaces. Most events are 45 minutes and designed for children ages 3-8, though this may vary by location or event. A drag queen generally reads 3-4 children’s books, sings children’s songs, and leads children in a craft activity such as making crowns, wands, or paper bag puppets, or sometimes other activities like face painting or dress-up time. Through a fun and fabulous literary experience, DQSH celebrates learning and play, encouraging kids to celebrate gender diversity and all kinds of difference, while building confidence in expressing themselves. Some cities also offer other kinds of DQSH programming for kids and teens of all ages.

What is a drag queen?

Drag is an artistic way of expressing yourself and showing the world who you are or who you want to be. Drag queens often express their feminine sides or different aspects of their gender or personality through dressing up, performing, marching in parades, and volunteering in their communities. There are drag queens, drag kings, drag princes, and drag princesses—anyone can be any of the above, regardless of how they identify in everyday life! All that matters is that, when you dress up, you feel comfortable and creative.

Should I call the drag queen “he,” “she,” “they,” or something else?

You can ask! It’s always OK to ask someone what their pronouns are. Examples of pronouns are “she,” “he,” and “they.” Some people have different pronouns at different times, like when they are in drag and out of drag. Others have the same pronouns all the time.

Does DQSH promote an agenda?

Our agenda is simple: we believe that people of all ages should be free to express themselves however they want, free from the constraints of prescribed gender roles. In other words, there’s no such thing as “girl clothes” and “boy clothes,” or “girl toys” and “boy toys.” DQSH teaches children that there are many ways to express themselves and their gender, and they are all OK.  Of course, drag is an art form that is rooted in diverse LGBTQ communities, and we support equality, justice, and respect for all people—for us, that’s just a given. Given that LGBTQ people are present in every community, we believe that children deserve to be exposed to these aspects of our shared history and culture, in age appropriate ways. Any insinuation that we have an agenda to indoctrinate children misunderstands LGBTQ experiences and is rooted in homophobia and transphobia.

Why is DQSH necessary?

DQSH helps children develop empathy, learn about gender diversity and difference, and tap into their own creativity. DQSH can also be life-changing and ultimately life-saving for LGBTQ kids and teens, kids with LGBTQ parents or family members, and anyone who feels different because of their identity or interests or who may not otherwise see themselves reflected in the broader culture.

Should children be exposed to issues like gender fluidity?

Most children naturally explore gender identity and norms through imaginative play. However, too often gender norms are socially enforced at all ages, from the colors or clothes we’re supposed to wear to the toys kids are allowed to play with to the kinds of jobs we’re trained for.  DQSH teaches children to follow their passions and embrace gender diversity in themselves and others. This helps to curb bullying of LGBTQ kids and kids who may be perceived as different in all kinds of ways.

Isn’t this confusing for children? What if my children have questions and I don’t know the answers?

Adults don’t always have the answers, but we can ask questions and learn together. We created The Dragtivity Book to help adults and kids explore drag, gender, and identity together. There are also a number of organizations that provide resources for talking to kids about gender and other topics. [Resources coming soon.]

Why do you only have drag queens? What about drag kings?

DQSH started off as a drag queen-focused program, but many of our chapters now offer programming led by drag performers of all gender presentations, expressions, and identities!

Is DQSH a national organization?

No, each local DQSH chapter is independently operated and funded. Our website, calendar, and social media are managed by the New York City chapter.

Why do kids love drag queens so much?

Children and drag queens have a lot in common. They love to dress up and use their imaginations to create awesome looks and express different sides of themselves. It’s no wonder they get along so well!

I’m a drag performer and I want to join DQSH!

Reach out to your nearest DQSH chapter! In regions that already have a DQSH chapter, we ask all potential performers and venues to work with existing chapters so we’re collaborating rather than competing. If you don’t have a chapter near you, contact [email protected] to receive info about setting up your own event.

I’m a book author or publisher. Can you read my book at DQSH?

Send a PDF of the book to your local chapter. We’ll get back to you to request copies if it’s a good fit.