Reading is fundamental. The last few weeks, there seems to be a lot of talk about reading children’s stories. Who knew? And seemingly, some controversy was stirred up and lots of media attention ensued. Drama.
There’s nothing wrong with some thought-provoking controversy. I applaud it actually. However, we must also think about how unnecessary drama impacts our broader LGBTQ community. And to be specific, whether we have thought it out beyond our names being in the media headlines.
I am not going to question motives or authenticity. But let’s take a moment to talk about our approach to what we choose to do as drag queens, especially as cisgender men who are drag queens.
Put plainly, we as cisgender men have tremendous privilege as drag queens. We do not live our lives as transgender women, nor do we face the discrimination, harassment and violence that transgender people face in their daily existence. I personally believe this should always be at the forefront of what we do and how we choose to take actions publicly.
Drag queen story time is an awesome idea and it can happen anywhere. The idea of drag queens reading to kids is magical and heart-warming. But here is the deal. Before you scream foul, I think a drag queen should build momentum for the idea and do the story time at different coffee houses and venues. Sure, public libraries should be considered as a venue; however, as with all public venues there will be processes. Saying one was “denied” doing the event because there are rules and a process is not accurate.
Put bluntly, creating controversy over the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library was not the safest or most appropriate way to build an audience. Plus, painting the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library as against LGBTQ activities like this is not fair. The library has many LGBTQ themed books, activities and supportive functions annually. Don’t cry wolf because there are rules and a process. Follow the procedures and make it happen.
A drag queen should also consider her name and image before asking to read to a children’s audience. Does your brand or who you are fit? If your name is “sexually explicit,” think about how to change or adapt it. If you have photos on your social media of you naked or in bondage, maybe take those down. Not thinking, or ignoring the obvious, is dangerous to our LGBTQ community, especially after HB2 and all the harm that our transgender community has faced recently.
Please do not get me wrong I have no problems with nudity or sexuality. However, if you’re wanting to read to children, I think it is pretty much a no-brainer that this would not work out and would be highly criticized — unless you just wanted the media attention and for the pot to boil over. Nevertheless, we cannot be careless and reckless with how we approach anything we do.
This gets to my final point and my largest concern surrounding the safety of transgender people in our community. Every time there are negative stories like this, especially those not involving a transgender person, but provoking the radical religious fanatics, we put transgender young people and their lives at risk. This was not a story that had to be negative. Many coffee houses and restaurants would have gladly held a story time for children with drag queens month after month. There would have been a great crowd, and you could’ve used those experiences to share with the public library as you went through the process to hold an event there. But instead approaching the public library, and then broadcasting to media outlets that you were “denied,” only created a false narrative and stoked the flames of hate mongers and bigots.
This story became a national headline and reinforced Charlotte’s as an unsafe place. It could have played out in the media far worse. It was a dangerous situation with online comments, photos and posts about the drag queen in question and about all Charlotte drag queens in general. Many could have been harmed, especially transgender youth who take the brunt of this harassment daily.
Luckily, just like a children’s book, this story did have a happy ending. Common Market did hold the event and there was a positive outcome. I am very happy about that.
As a Charlotte drag queen, I take great pride in what many queens before me created for us today in the Queen City. It is special and demands we do better.
Please know that I am not assigning blame here. I am just trying to get us all as drag queens to think through what we do and the repercussions before we do it.
Drag queens have tremendous power and with that comes tremendous responsibility in how we use that power. I was really concerned about what could’ve happened with the escalation of the hate and how that might spill over in impacting LGBTQ young people.
Let the reading continue. I want to see drag queen story time happen more and with more drag queens, representing the diversity of our drag queen community. And don’t give up on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library. Go through the process. In the meantime, read wherever and whenever you can.
DRAG TIP: Google your name every once in awhile and see what comes up. You might be surprised and want to delete a photo or two.
SHOUT OUTS: Exciting news! Charlotte has its first and only drag queen dining restaurant and bar. It opened this week. Check it out at Boulevard1820.net.
info: Buff Faye calls the Queen City home and is a best-selling author of six books (plus she loves to raise money for charities). Find her at your favorite bars and hotspots. Plus don’t forget her monthly Friday & Saturday night shows, Sunday drag brunch and regular Friday night party bus. Learn more at AllBuff.com. Follow on Twitter @BuffFaye