Now over the last 3 years Ive developed the Drag Queen Story Time Program for the Philadelphia and tri-state area and it's been an amazing experience. I’ve played in libraries, the Please Touch Museum, art centers, and have had such a wonderful time meeting families of all walks of life that come to my program to allow their kids to hear stories about love, diversity, and acceptance and expand their world view on different lifestyles and people.
Drag Queen Story Time brings together all types of families-single parents, same sex parents-the majority being heteronormative parents who just love the idea of a Drag Queen Story time and tell me they just want their kids to see a world of different lifestyles and cultures.
I see boys in pigtails and in dresses with thier nails painted and parents say, "that’s how he wants to dress so we let him". Children know nothing of gender roles at their young age, and it’s been an eye-opening journey to see this generation of parents supporting their kids choices to be who they want to be.
I have had parents who came to me with questions, and have had some come to me in tears thanking me and telling me that they now have finally found a person to talk to, or ask for advice in seeking other outlets to learn how to raise non-binary or questioning children.
I want to take my Drag Queen Story Time program a step further in 2019. We are debuting a new Drag Queen Story Time in June of 2019 at the Please Touch Museum. And I am working with five child educators on this program and with my galpal UKELE ARTIST AND GENDER BENDER extroidinaire Eric Jaffe!
What makes this program different?
Beside the story time aspect where we will be reading stories about diversity, love, and acceptance, we will be working with our child educators to implement questions parents want to ask about their non-binary or questioning children. More more importantly, this program will be addressing questions that kids may want to ask but are afraid to ask in front of their parents, peers, or others.
These questions will be asked during pivitol points of the program AND will be asked by PUPPETS planted in the audience along with their puppeteers. We are creating the puppets to represent different aspects of the LGBTQIA community-a gay puppet, a lesbian puppet, a trans and non-binary questioning puppet. Think of this in terms of a "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" meets "Pee Wee's Playhouse" setting.
Kids and their parent will all take away something from this experience that will hopefully make their growing up a better and easier experience. I know how hard it was growing up myself as a gay boy growing up in Northeast Philadelphia. Wayyyyy before the internet, so I did not have anyone to talk to- or know that I wasn’t alone. And not knowing this was HARD. And lonely. And if I can make someone else’s journey easier or better-than I need to do this.
After the debut at the Please Touch Museum, my team and I want this project to be free to all of the libraries that have had my drag queen story time program so far, and then free to any school, learning facility, or venue progressive enough to allow us to use their space to have this program for their local community.
But I need help. We need puppets, puppeteers, a small, traveling set, among other necessities. We like to put out different costuming for the kids to wear during Drag Queen Story Time-dresses, jackets, masks, wings-there’s a lot to be done, but I know we can-and we will-make this happen. We want to take this program on the road and hit as many learning centers as we can until the amount raised is down to its very last cent.
Both Eric and myself will be working on a song just for storytime-“It’s ok to be me”-and we hope it becomes an anthem for lgbtqia youth and youth in general. My children's book that will be published this summer, "The Adventures of Miss Kitty Popcorn and Cheese", about a young questioning witch and her two magical pets, will make its debut at Drag Queen Story Time, and we are extremely excited to feature this book on the tour!
This is just the first step in making the world a place where someday maybe this program will not even be needed because everyone will just accepts everyone for who they are-but until that time happens-let’s do this work and make it happen-who knows who's lives we can change with love and acceptance!
Please check out our Drag Queen Story Time Page on Facebook and hopefully we will see you soon at one of these events-debuting THIS JUNE!
- Abbe Klebanoff
- Shari Gold
- Christopher Higham
- Michael Hairston
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