‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ for kids at NJ library
Harmonica Sunbeam describes herself as a mother, fitness enthusiast, role model and shade blocker. She's also a man.
A New Jersey entertainer who travels to libraries around the country and reads to young children while dressed as a woman, this drag queen is taking a lot of heat for a recent appearance. She came to the public library in Rahway for "Drag Queen Story Hour" and read to the kids, posed with them for pictures, did arts and crafts, etcetera.
Leading up to the event the backlash was swift. Social media blew up with comments. Fliers were left in residents' mailboxes with words like unnatural, abnormal and predator. Facebook comments included, "Why do you need a tranny reading to kids? Why can't a librarian read to kids? Why does someone need to dress up as the opposite sex just to read to kids?"
The event, which was originally supposed to take place at the local train station but was moved to the library due to weather, went off despite the protests. Parents who attended had positive things to say. Rahway mayor Raymond A. Giacobbe backed the event saying, "We do not teach hate or intolerance here in Rahway, we're an open and diverse community and in no way does that flyer represent the citizens of Rahway."
The idea of all this is of course to build tolerance and acceptance. At the risk of receiving hate mail from both sides, I wouldn't take my young child to this nor do I have any problem with Harmonica Sunbeam doing this. I already have raised my two older kids to be tolerant and accepting. They know there are different sexual orientations in this world just like there are different races and religions. We have friends who are gay and have been to our home and played with our kids. They know all about transgender people and have been raised not to look down on anyone and ask us questions if they have any. At the same time, for younger children, reading to them is always good. If you want that to be done specifically by a drag queen once in awhile that's fine. I just don't find the need to go out of my way to bring them to a story time by a transvestite. Do I think it will "change" them? Of course not. Do I think it will confuse them? Possibly, yes. And as my younger two grow I wait for natural opportunities to teach them things about tolerance and acceptance just as I did a great job of with my older two. While they say there's no agenda to "Drag Queen Story Hour" I feel by the very title alone there's somewhat of an agenda. When the librarian reads it's not called "Middle-aged Cis Female Story Hour." If I read at my kids school it wouldn't be called "Overweight Straight Caucasian Male Story Hour." It would simply be a story hour. That the program is going out of its way to label itself shows this isn't just about reading stories to kids, which ought to be the focus.
There's nothing wrong with them doing this for those who want to be involved. There's also nothing wrong with me looking for more natural opportunities to teach my children about differences among people in the world.
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