Following the Louisville public library’s Drag Queen Storytime event, the Courier Journal published an opinion piece by Kent Ostrander, executive director at the Family Foundation. The headline, as a good headline should do, explains the thrust of the column: “Drag Queen Storytime: It’s foolish to bring kids into the sexual world of adults.” Here is more:
“I mean no disrespect to anyone who read to the children. I mean no disrespect to those who attended. But for the library of the city of Louisville to be engaging adult entertainers in costume to ‘share time’ with small children is at best ‘foolish,’ at worst, abuse.”
The op-ed brought a raft of criticism online. Some asked why the newspaper would publish such commentary without context or an opposing view. Some questioned the CJ’s judgment in agreeing to print it, period.
About a week later, the CJ published this rebuttal to the Family Foundation op-ed
Drag Queen Storytime wasn’t about sex
It was about showing kids it’s OK to be Different
I want to talk about some “foolishness.”
This is partially in response to a recent opinion expressed in the Courier Journal. As well as to express my support of all people regardless of who they are.
It is a fact that if you Google “adult entertainer,” you will be bombarded by articles on exotic dancers and adult film stars.
Not drag queens.
Drag queens, for those who are unsure, are female or male impersonators, and they are professional entertainers. They learn makeup, dance, choreography and much more for their craft. They also come in all shapes, sizes, colors and sexual orientations. Some entertain all ages, while others prefer to entertain others with adult-themed humor, song and dance. While the latter may be bawdy, they are meant for age-appropriate audiences.
The Drag Queen Story Hour that was held at the Louisville Free Public Library truly was an all-inclusive family event. It was a safe space for our children to learn that it is OK to be themselves no matter what.
Let me clear up some misconceptions, though. Not at any point during this event was sex, sexual orientation, sex education or anything sex related discussed or taught. Not once was anyone trying to convert me or push their agenda on me. Why anyone would even think this was the case is beyond me. The only people bringing sex and this event into the same sentence were those opposed to the event.
Hello, it’s an event for children. Anyone who was there in that room can verify this. The only theme in that room, filled with acceptance and love, was it is OK to be who you are even if you are different from those around you. You can be a boy and like pink or things commonly attributed to being for girls, or a girl who prefers cleats and climbing trees. And that is perfectly OK. That is a wonderful lesson for all children to learn.
This event was wonderful to have the opportunity to take my daughter to. Our children were read to, danced together and spent time with their community. I want her to learn to respect all people no matter who they are. Regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else that may make them different from her.
This is important to me because my child is different, like many children within our community. My child needs to know that just because she has a prosthetic eye that she isn’t less important. I want her and all children to grow up being proud of what makes them unique, whether that is having a prosthetic eye, liking things commonly seen as for the opposite sex, or whatever their abilities are. Our next generation needs to know that it is OK to be who you are regardless of what mold society tries to fit you into.
I, personally, want to thank the Louisville Free Public Library for being inclusive and hosting this event as well as many others. Louisville is a very diverse city, although it doesn’t always show. I also want to thank all the counterprotesters for trying to build a buffer between the families walking in and the protesters across from them.
It was not an easy thing to see parents quickly ushering their children into the library, covering their children’s ears, while being told they are bad parents and going to hell. I, personally, on social media after showing support for the event, was told that I should be investigated for child abuse by more than one person. All for taking my child to an event where books were being read to her by a female impersonator. You would have thought we were serving up our children to Satan himself, instead of teaching them about inclusivity.
Now, you don’t have to agree with me. I’m the first to say we can agree to disagree. Civil discussions around differences of opinions need to happen. That is how we come to learn about the world around us. It doesn’t mean that I am trying to convert someone to my way of thinking or beliefs. It means that I am trying to understand why you feel the way you do on a certain subject. The key to this, however, is being civil with one another. Many are so quick to judge, rant and rave against opinions that are not their own. While this is their constitutional right, it doesn’t make the way they handle it right.
However, I am tired of all the misconceptions around groups of people, including but not limited to drag queens. I want people to know and understand the different people within the community regardless of whether they are with them on every issue or not. Better yet, get to know the person before accusing them of having a mental illness for doing something you consider wrong per your beliefs.
It would definitely make a difference if we stopped stereotyping everyone. If we stopped discriminating against those different than ourselves.
It would definitely make the world a better place to raise our families. •
Raina Ross is a wife, mother, lifelong resident of Kentuckiana and a blogger at KentuckianaMomma.com.