This book is important to me. Drag Queen Story Hour is important to me. Why? It's a long story, but suffice it to say it's about representation, and I have a personal stake here.
I've always loved queer folk and am very happy that they're getting more representation nowadays. As an educator, I am always looking for quality books that represent the diversity that exists in my classroom and community. I was thrilled when they started doing dqsh, because it's such a great way for people to share and celebrate their diversity. So I already cared before, and then...
I had my first son in 2003, and my second in 2014. Both boys were raised on loving kindness, feminism (the non-toxic kind), and gender equality, just to name a few core values. Both liked to dress up as toddlers. Both role-played as girl characters from time to time. My oldest has been pretty "typical," your average teenage cishet boy.
I'm going to get personal here.
My youngest is really into role-playing and dressing up, even moreso than his peers. He's a drama kid, already has 2 shows under his belt at the age of 5. This alone doesn't necessarily mean anything, but he also has a fervent interest in playing with make-up/nail polish, wearing beautiful dresses, jewelry and hair accessories, and referring to himself as his female alter-ego, Rolanda. My family seem to think that it's a "phase" he's going through. I disagree.
The first time my son saw Li'l Miss Hot Mess doing dqsh, his whole face lit up. He's seen drag queens before, but he was just captivated by her. He sat through the whole story, which is not typical for him at all. He said, "I like how she looks!" He asked to watch the video again. And again. And again.
The big question...
Upon watching for the umpteenth time, he asked me, "Is she a woman or a man?"
"Well," I said, "Right now she's a woman. When she takes off her makeup and wig and sparkles, she's a man."
"Oh, like when I'm Rolanda?" he asked.
"Yes, exactly like that!" I replied. "It's called being a drag queen."
He got the biggest smile on his face and said, "Oh, cool! Mom, I'm a drag queen!"
In education, we talk about "lightbulb moments," that moment when everything "clicks" and you can see that a new insight has just happened, like in the cartoons when a character gets an idea and a light bulb appears above their head. Ro and I shared a light bulb moment that day. He saw himself on that screen, and that gave him the confidence to be who he is without shame or embarrassment.
This is why representation matters. This is why I love #dragqueenstoryhour. And that's that.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk.
So, our copy just arrived today, and I am thrilled with the outcome! My son came running in with the package and insisted that I read it to him immediately. (This is big; he doesn't usually choose *anything* over playing outside.) He was beyond excited to see Li'l Miss Hot Mess on the back flap of the dust jacket. He actually danced along with the story! And then we played dress-up for like an hour. The book itself is beautiful and well-made. Gonna go leave a glowing review. 📕 ❤️