Froma Harrop: The Republic will outlive the drag queens – West Central Tribune

Drag queens are men who play dressed as women. Once an underground art form, drag shows have become mainstream. Today, they are widely considered innocent entertainment: the hugely popular “RuPaul’s Drag Race” is in its 14th season.

Comment by Froma Harrop

Grandstand graphic

This kind of entertainment has become so accepted that some public libraries are hosting hours of drag queen stories. These are events where men dressed as women read to children, usually in a gentle, motherly way. (Chances are, most 4-year-olds won’t even understand that the reader is a boy.)

Not everyone approves.

I asked a liberal friend, a man totally comfortable with gay friends, if he would take his son to such a reading. He said “No” but added, “On the other hand, I don’t have to go.”

Choosing to attend or not to attend would seem like good policy for all kinds of people regarding all kinds of gatherings. For the record, however, serious research concludes that sexual orientation is almost surely caused by biological factors that begin before birth. In other words, you can’t make a “straight” person gay.

Anti-drag-reading activists in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and elsewhere obviously don’t read literature. Their version of cancel culture is to ban such pick-up events.
The Idaho Family Policy Center is proposing a bill that would ban all drag shows in public places in the state. As its president, Blaine Conzatti, told the Idaho Capital Sun, drag acts represent a sexualized representation of gender.

Question: Do you consider Mother Goose sexy? If these kid readers came dressed as Lauren Boebert with crotchless jeans or Ginni Thomas flaunting her bountiful cleavage, they might be right. But the characters at the time of reading tend towards Grandmother.

“The motivation to flirt is usually not sexual,” explains the Encyclopedia Britannica. This differentiates it from cross-dressing, which “transvestites” do.

Another question: do you object to violent far-right groups meeting in parks or other public spaces? Because they do. So what did you think of the Patriot Front white supremacists arrested en route to threatening a Pride in the Park event in Coeur d’Alene?

It was not an isolated act. In June, the far-right Proud Boys stormed a children’s reading hour at a library in San Lorenzo, California. These defenders of male virtue didn’t encounter much resistance from 4-year-olds and their moms.

A group of right-wing protesters brought guns to a drag queen storytime at a pub in Eugene, Oregon. A bar happens to be private property.

Nowadays, drag queens perform at corporate and charity events. In a comedy skit from 2000, Rudy Giuliani frolicked in a blonde wig and racy dress. Donald Trump pressed his face against the then mayor’s chest. Giuliani called Trump a “dirty boy” and slapped him. “Well, you can’t say I didn’t try,” Trump said. Almost everyone thought it was funny.

And it was hilarious when Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis became ‘Daphne’ and ‘Josephine’ in ‘Some Like It Hot’ or Dustin Hoffman wore a red sequin dress to get an acting role in ‘Tootsie’ . And did any sane person think that Robin Williams was “looking after” children when he dressed as a cleaning lady in “Mrs. Doubtfire”?

Classic children’s books also include scenes of boys wearing girls’ clothes. Huckleberry Finn disguised as a girl named Sarah. If it’s terrible, the school library should remove Mark Twain from its shelves – assuming it hasn’t already.

In sum, parents who want to bring their children and themselves to hours of drag queen reading should have every right to do so. Those who don’t like these events don’t have to go.

Wherever you are, rest assured: the republic will outlive the drag queens.


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