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.

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.

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.]

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.

Why are you teaching preschoolers about sex?

We’re not. We’re teaching them about gender presentation and gender identity—as well as how to be imaginative, creative, and critical thinkers. If you are confused about the differences between gender presentation, gender identity, assigned sex, and sexual orientation, we recommend checking out the Gender Unicorn and other resources from Trans Student Education Resources.

If you’re not trying to indoctrinate children, why do you have “Drag Queen in Training” stickers?

Lots of people put their baby girls in “Princess in Training” onesies. Is that indoctrination? When kids grow up they can decide for themselves whether they want to be princesses, drag queens, or something else. Let’s start out by giving them options!

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?

Each DQSH chapter operates independently. Drag Queen Story Hour NYC Ltd. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that produces DQSH events in the NYC metropolitan area, manages the DQSH website, email list, and social media, and provides support, resources, and training to help people develop their own DQSH chapters all over the world.

How are you funded?

Each local DQSH chapter manages its own finances. Drag Queen Story Hour NYC Ltd. receives funding for our local events from supportive City Council members, as well as from our local libraries and other venues that book us. We rely on private donors and sponsors to support the work we do to build our global program by supporting DQSH chapters in other places as well as to provide free or low-cost events for underfunded communities. Donate to your local chapter or to Drag Queen Story Hour NYC Ltd. to support our mission to spread love and glamour to libraries in every corner of the globe!

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!

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.

I’m organizing a DQSH in my hometown and I’m facing challenges from my community or online trolls. Can you help?

Check out the talking points section in our organizers’ guidelines and email events@dragqueenstoryhour.org for support and to join our DQSH organizers’ email list.

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 organize so we’re collaborating rather than competing. If you don’t have one near you, read our guidelines and contact events@dragqueenstoryhour.org to set up your own chapter!

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

Send a PDF of the book to nyc@dragqueenstoryhour.org. We’ll get back to you if it’s a good fit for our general list. We can also provide addresses for all our other chapters if you’d like to send a copy to all of them. Alternatively, you can reach out directly to your local chapter.

How much does it cost to book a DQSH?

Reach out to your local chapter to inquire about rates. In New York City, we have sliding scale rates for different types of venues.

What do you do with the money you raise on Facebook and through your website?

It goes to Drag Queen Story Hour NYC Ltd. and supports the work we are doing to spread the magic of DQSH all over the world!