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Posted: March 26, 2023

Drag ‘entertainment’ not meant for children

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Of all the controversies raging in the hemisphere today none rage quite as outrageously as the issue surrounding so-called “drag queen story time” for children.

The ancient art form that can trace its roots to ancient Greece and early British vaudeville shows has crossed the line to mainline “entertainment” with shows being put on right here in the Kootenays – though not in Cranbrook or Kimberley to my knowledge – as well as many libraries across Canada and the US resulting in death threats in some states such as Florida where would-be presidential candidate and state governor Ron DeSantis called the practice “a disturbing trend in society today to sexualize these young people.”

Drag performers deny they’re “grooming” children for sexual purposes. But this didn’t stop Texas state Republican Bryan Slaton last week from proposing a law aimed at protecting the state’s kids from “perverted adults” after a Dallas bar held a family-friendly event entitled “Drag the Kids to Pride.”

As we all know, entertainment trends down south have a way of working their way north and I’m aware of at least one drag queen story hour for kids held in the Fernie Library last year and no doubt there have been others held in the Kootenays which has forced me to confront my own views on the incendiary issue.

Of all the wonders in the world to be introduced to children, why drag? Isn’t drag supposed to be a sophisticated form of adult entertainment dating all the way back to Plato’s time? Naïve soul that I am, I’ve never been to a drag show where men lather on tons of makeup, dress in women’s clothes and wear skimpy costumes that leave nothing to the imagination.

Decked out like this, they perform acts of an unsavory nature and at times downright pornographic. Apparently, this “entertains” some people so much that some drag queens have become celebrities in their own right such as Bianca Del Rio, Violet Chachki and Bob the Drag Queen.

As they say, different strokes for different folks and in Shakespeare’s time it was common for male actors to play women’s roles because women weren’t allowed on stage.

Certainly, drag has historic links from those ribald times but that doesn’t make it age-appropriate for children today. Surely in 2023 we’re a long way past Shakespeare’s time and plunking Mary and Billy into library seats to watch drag queens perform before their innocent eyes is anything but “enlightened?”

Maybe children drag shows are less graphic and all in fun as some parents claim. But in my mind, that’s an awfully warped view of “fun.”

And there’s another element to the drag queen issue. Many protesting the loudest are from various faith communities and their outrage has been met with derision on the part of the non-religious in what can best be described as the more secular or “woke” crowd. Well, I’m not particularly religious in the conventional way but when I was a young father helping to raise my kids you could have held a gun to my head and I still wouldn’t have allowed my children to attend a drag story event. What would they get from it? Entertainment? I doubt it. More likely it would be confusion and possibly even fear.

Why expose children to such a jaundiced form of “entertainment?” Why give them such a negative and warped view of the world? That’s the last thing children need at such a vulnerable age. And frankly I can’t understand why any loving parent would want their children to witness drag – a mature form of adult entertainment at best – when they could show them the wide kaleidoscope of great stories found in so many children’s books.

Drag can come later. Much later.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who once had a drag queen landlord in Kitsilano known on stage as Brenda Lee. We got along famously.

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