The claim that Drag Queen Story Hour is not the inclusive event it claims to be, and that it will lead to less tolerance rather than more, will be heard by many as at best counterintuitive and at worst an attempt to prevent the free expression of gender non-conforming people. It’s quite likely that charges of homophobia will be brought and possibly even – horror of horrors – accusations of an attempt to re-establish “cis-normative heterosexual orthodoxy” on society at large.
But a closer look at what is actually being pushed by the whole drag movement – and it is a movement that has considerable social currency – exposes a fundamental deceit. Because drag is itself homophobic.
Why? Here’s what Drag Queen Story Hour have to say about themselves on their “Why Choose Us” webpage:
These are the claims:
65% of LGBT+ secondary school pupils experience homophobic bullying at school
97% of LGBT+ pupils report regularly hearing homophobic language in school
80% of LGBT+ pupils have NOT been taught about safe sex in relation to same-sex relationships
More than 80% of trans young people have self-harmed, as have 60% of lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren’t trans.
Just under 50% of young trans people have attempted to take their own life, and 20% of lesbian, gay and bi students who aren’t trans have done the same.
Leaving aside the entirely unevidenced (and frankly unbelievable) statistics, the proposition is that DQSH is a good thing because homophobia is rife among young people.
The claim is that DQSH will go some way to reducing this epidemic of homophobia because:
“If you are introduced to something new in a positive way, you will react in a positive way. We want to do the same for anybody who is different in the UK.”
This can only be read as meaning that drag queens are gay men, and by showing children what gay men are like, children will stop being so homophobic.
The implications of this are quite extraordinary. We are being told that:
Gay men wear women’s clothes
Gay men act like sexualised parodies of women
Gay men are not like other men
How this helps to stop homophobic abuse is unclear. Indeed, a lot of homophobic abuse historically leant on these exact myths, and yet DQSH is explicitly reinforcing those stereotypes.
All that good work done by Stonewall prior to 2015 risks being undone. Back when Stonewall was a force for good, their message was that gay men were exactly like other men except for their sexual orientation. That they didn’t look, dress and act differently. That they weren’t effeminate “almost-women” and “not-real-men” even if they were gender non-confirming.
The DQSH Lesson
If young children had the understanding that this man reading to them – dressed in a way that they’ve probably never seen anyone, man or woman, dressed – was a gay man, they could be forgiven for thinking that the lesson was that gay men are very different to other men.
DQSH illustrates this using a photo of their reader interacting with a baby, but it is to be hoped that young children would not be told anything about the sexual orientation of the person reading to them.
If any of the older children did have some understanding that drag queens are or might be gay men, and if they remembered the DQSH lesson as they and their friends started to understand their own emerging sexuality, might they even assume that a gay man is expected to dress or act like this?
And what about lesbians? Once again women and girls are completely excluded from the narrative except to be portrayed as stereotypes.
So, next time we are told that Drag Queen Story Hour is all about tolerance and inclusion, we should ask ourselves who is lecturing us.