In 2017 Accuracy in Academia reported about a phenomenon known as Drag Queen Story Hour. Since then this cultural phenomenon has dragged on, so to speak, for over two years.
The University of North Florida’s Thomas G. Carpenter Library and LGBT Resource Center just hosted a Drag Queen Story Hour event late last month, featuring Beatrice Palmer, a drag queen known as “Bebe Deluxe.”
A post on the library’s Facebook page indicates that the event was “Funded by Student Life & Services fees.”
Jacksonville.com reported an approximate audience size of 65 people and noted that attendance included “a mix of toddlers, parents, UNF students and faculty members.” Pictures of the event are posted on the library’s Facebook page—a toddler in one photo sports a t-shirt that contains the text “Love Wins” on top of rainbow stripes.
Videos recorded by Drag Queen Story Hour opponent Raymond Johnson document portions of the event. In one of the clips the group can be heard several times repeating the sentence, “Trans people don’t owe you a gosh darn thing.”
“Maria owes her grandson fifteen dollars for mowing the lawn,” Palmer said. “What Maria doesn’t owe you is an answer when you ask her invasive questions about her relationships or body parts,” Palmer said before leading the audience in repeating the mantra, “Trans people don’t owe you a gosh darn thing.”
Ashley Goswami brought her 5-month-old infant named Zuri to the event and explained that she had enjoyed a Bebe Deluxe show with her sister in the past: “I went to a Bebe Deluxe show with my sister last year and we still laugh about it once a week,” she said. “I just thought it would be a neat activity to support. You’re never too young to learn about inclusion and love. She [Zuri] will get bigger and bigger and keep coming back.”
“We had already been seeing story hours across the country and thought it was just such a great concept about the expansiveness of gender,” UNF’s LGBT Resource Center Director Kaitlin Legg said. “Our incoming college students are increasingly identifying as LGBTQ. UNF is making sure they’re getting the resources they need to be successful. The opportunity to bring resources to the library was the primary motivation.”
She indicated that they will hold another Drag Queen Story Hour event in the future: “Now that we see the community sees a need for it, we’ll definitely be doing it again,” Legg said.