Behind the chiffon curtain: Drag queen story hours and child endangerment
By Sarah Quale — Drag queen story hours (DQSHs) have quickly become one of the most divisive controversies in the 21st century culture war. Recent research revealed that these events are part of a much larger, intentional effort by the American Library Association to promote LGBTQ activism. New evidence from their recent annual conference shows how deep this promotion runs and how libraries are protecting themselves instead of protecting children. Communities are demanding to know: What’s really behind the values DQSHs are said to promote? Do DQSHs actually provide children with positive role models or expose them to dangerous men?
The initial exposure
In June, Personhood Alliance Education brought to light an intentional movement within the American Library Association (ALA) to bring DQSHs and other LGBTQ-promoting events into libraries across the country, even helping “secret librarian advocate operative[s]” sneak LGBTQ books and materials into current programs and use outside sponsors to host DQSHs in resistant communities. Over 43,000 people responded by signing our petition with LifeSite News. A similar petition partnership between CitizenGo and the Activist Mommy brought an additional 56,000 signatures. Both petitions were delivered to the ALA’s office in Washington, DC, on July 11th.
If you have not yet signed the petition to the ALA, which is now moving to Congress, click here to add your name.
Georgia Kijesky, leader of Personhood Maryland, was instrumental in bringing this issue to the forefront, as her local library in Lexington Park, Maryland is an active example of how larger forces are working to promote corrupted sexuality and gender to children. She also helped organize a well-attended prayer vigil on June 23rd during the DQSH and Drag 101 events at the library, which were led by a drag queen whose name was purposefully withheld from the public by the event sponsor.
The response to the research, the petition, and the vigil is one that has become familiar to Christian communities across the country. It’s a response shared by the ALA, LGBTQ advocacy groups, DQSH organizers and supporters, and even some churches:
- DQSHs reflect good values like inclusivity, acceptance, and freedom of expression.
- DQSHs are harmless and offer children positive role models.
Let’s examine what’s behind these claims.
The values beneath the veneer
At the 2019 ALA annual conference and exhibition, held in Washington, DC in June, intellectual freedom and inclusivity were front and center. Supported by the structures within the ALA that were created to normalize and promote the LGBTQ lifestyle, these rhetorical concepts—core values, according to the ALA—were woven throughout the workshops and exhibition hall. These core values were also worn proudly by ALA executives and attendees, even ALA president Loida Garcia-Febo, as they celebrated World Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of The Stonewall Riots. The Stonewall Uprising, as it’s also known, is a key milestone in the gay rights movement—six days of violent demonstrations started by drag queen Marsha P. Johnson against police who had raided a gay club in New York City in 1969.
More than 100 ALA conference workshops boasted an equality, diversity, and inclusivity theme; a reported one-third of the total workshop offerings. Sessions included:
- A workshop to help librarians prepare for DQSH backlash, titled: Controversial speaker planned for your library event? Things to consider
- Guidance for how to couch DQSHs, LBGTQ programs, and pornography in 1st Amendment and core values rhetoric, called: Censorship Beyond Books
- Insight from Michelle Tea, creator of the DQSH phenomenon, and Kristin Pekoll, a leader in the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom on Telling Stories, Expanding Boundaries: Drag Queen Storytimes in Libraries
- A social-justice-themed session titled: Subversive Activism: Creating Social Change Through Libraries, Children’s Literature, and Art
Other workshops included, “A Child’s Room to Choose: Encouraging Gender Identity and Expression in School and Public Libraries” and “Are You Going to Tell My Parents?: The Minor’s Right to Privacy in the Library.”
It is important to note here that, under the guise of right-to-privacy, 1st Amendment protections, and anti-censorship, the ALA fought vigorously against requiring pornography blocking software on library computers in the early 2000s. This software was mandated for public libraries and schools through the federal Children’s Internet Protection Act. The ALA opposed porn filters all the way to the Supreme Court, but lost United States v. American Library Association in 2003. Today, the ALA is bypassing this decision, giving children access to pornography and age-inappropriate events and materials offline, in the form of DQSHs, Drag 101 events, explicit sex education workshops, and pornographic book displays.
The role models beneath the makeup
The ALA’s promotion of DQSHs legitimizes the idea that a man dressed as an exaggerated caricature of a woman promotes acceptance, inclusion, and children’s literacy. The DQSH website itself says that these events “capture the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood and give kids glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role models.”
So what is a drag queen?
According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD), “Drag queens are men, typically gay men, who dress like women for the purpose of entertainment.” Drag queens perform for gay audiences in adult nightclubs and at other homosexual- and transgender-themed events and venues. They are performers who live other lives outside of their drag characters and may or may not be transgender, notes the National Center for Transgender Equality.
What about the “other life” of a drag queen, and does it matter in terms of having access to children?
This drag queen, Dylan Pontiff (aka Santana Pilar Andrews) says he can filter himself for different audiences—the gay men who pay money to see him in sexually charged drag attire and the children who sit in front of him as he reads children’s books that introduce homosexuality and gender-fluid concepts. Yet, he makes a startling admission: “[The DQSH] is going to be the grooming of the next generation. We are trying to groom the next generation.”
And what of the drag queen whose identity was purposefully withheld from the public prior to the June 23rd events at the Lexington Park Library in Maryland?
He’s shown below in pink.
According to Samantha McGuire, the spokesperson for the event sponsor Southern Maryland Area Secular Humanists (SMASH), her organization ran a background check on Stormy Vain before the DQSH occurred, yet chose to withhold his identity because drag queens “get viciously attacked by trolls”. Once Stormy Vain posted about the DQSH on Facebook a few days later, it took an activist about 10 minutes to discover who he is.
Meet Todd Musick (aka Stormy Vain), who runs a lurid sex business that features gay males called Stormy’s Angels of Entertainment, dba Eroticasy. Though Musick has now taken his website offline and made all of his social media accounts private, here are just a few screenshots of his work, which was captured in a 70-page exposé (credit: Mass Resistance, at the request of Personhood Maryland’s Georgia Kijesky).
During a July 9th St. Mary’s County Commissioners’ meeting, SMASH’s Samantha McGuire presented an indirect defense of Stormy Vain, without addressing the issue of the background check, by accusing Personhood Maryland’s Georgia Kijesky of “doxxing.” She also thanked the commissioners for “listening over and over again to the same bigoted comments by a misinformed public.” McGuire went on to address Kijesky again: “Some of the people in this room expose themselves to be those very bigots.” You can watch her 4-minute response here.
Here’s what Kijesky had presented to the commissioners earlier in the meeting, regarding what had been uncovered about Stormy Vain.
The Lexington Park Library’s meeting room policy absolves the St. Mary’s County Library Board of Trustees from the responsibility of vetting who has access to children, because to avoid the controversy of sponsoring a DQSH, it allows third parties to reserve a room to do so. This has left a gray area as to who does background checks and whether they are even required. The Board of Trustees had even addressed the DQSH controversy beforehand, during its June 12th board meeting, saying that “talking points will be developed for Board members…We will not be putting out a press release since we do not want to draw attention to the event.” Here again, there was no mention of a background check on the men who would have access to children.
“This is just another loophole library officials have created to circumvent community objections to such events at the library. They’re passing the buck onto the event organizers who are not obliged to provide proof that the background check was even done!”
Who is responsible then?
Who is responsible for protecting children at public libraries? The libraries? The ALA? The groups that sponsor the events? The parents? The police? The community?
The answer is all of the above.
Yet, evidence is mounting across the country, regarding the “other lives” of drag queens and how they are blurring the lines between adult sexual entertainment and children’s entertainment:
- The Houston Public Library failed to do a background check as required by their own guidelines, allowing Albert Alfonso Garza (aka, Tatiana Mala Nina), a registered sex offender, to perform at at DQSHs at the Freed-Montrose Library.
- Convicted sex offender and self-described transgender prostitute, William Travis Dees (aka, Liza Lott), was also given access to children through DQSHs in the Houston library system.
- A video made the rounds recently of a sexually charged dance show put on by a drag queen at the King County Library teen pride event in Renton, Washington, where condoms, lubricant, and chest binders were offered as prizes.
- Several images were scrubbed from the Multnomah County Library’s Flickr account, which showed children being touched inappropriately and placed on top of drag queen Carla Rossi during a DQSH in Oregon.
Drag queen culture is also pulling children into its world in other ways, like this video showing drag kid Nemis Quinn Mélançon-Golden (aka Queen Lactatia) getting his start on stage (caution, language warning). Nemis also recently posed with nude adult drag queen Violet Chachki. In another video, drag kid Desmond Napoles (aka Desmond is Amazing) is shown dancing provocatively at a gay nightclub in New York City. The mainstream media has been championing the drag kid phenomenon for some time, as shown in this recent clip of Good Morning America, where Desmond was praised for being a “trailblazer.”
Despite increasing evidence, supporters continue to claim that DQSHs and similar events, in general and as a concept, are harmless.
Are DQSHs harmless?
According to Jon K. Uhler, MS, LPC, who has worked for over 11 years with thousands of incarcerated sex offenders, DQSHs are not harmless. He took to Twitter to note that gay men who dress in drag give sufficient indication of being sexually deviant outside of DQSHs. Twitter has since screened and censored all of Uhler’s posts that suggest predators exist within the homosexual and transgender communities.
“Concerns about these men, who seem very interested in spending time up close and personal with other people’s kids, are not phobic. The issue is child safety…Keeping kids from sexual predators must become a priority. No longer is it acceptable for people to place children at risk to pacify or placate men who want to play dress-up and/or act sexualized in front of kids…Events such as [DQSHs] are the perfect invitation for predators to attend and access kids for ‘hands on’ interactions.”
Are communities singling out DQSHs in particular, and are those who oppose DQSHs “bigots,” as Samantha McGuire and many others charge? Uhler says, “Of course not!” and references recent pedophile scandals in the Boy Scouts and in Catholic and Southern Baptist churches as other venues where predators have gained access to children.
“The concern is to ensure that wherever men would want to access kids, there be close scrutiny, instead of ‘an open door’ policy. Protecting [kids] must take priority over men who desire access to them.”
American College of Pediatrics president, Dr. Michelle Cretella, recently spoke about the psychological dangers of DQSHs. Her organization has taken a bold stand against puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgeries for children diagnosed with gender dsyphoria.
“The idea of the permanence of biological sex doesn’t form in a child’s cognitive development until age 7… It takes up until age 7 for many children to think ‘I was born a boy, I am a boy. If I put on a dress that doesn’t make me a girl, it just makes me a boy in a dress.’ What is dangerous is that these young children are just developing the awareness of the fact that they are a boy or a girl… It’s dangerous because when you give young children fantasy picture books like this it indoctrinates them into thinking that their sex is all external. A preschool boy, for example, may think ‘The boy teddy bear became a girl when he turned his bow tie into a barrette. I can do that, too.’ Children will come to believe that their sex is whatever they think they want it to be. This is dangerous from a psychological point of view. It’s disrupting the natural process of gender identity formation.”
But that is precisely the point.
What about the parents?
Parents who bring their children to DQSHs genuinely believe they are teaching their children to love and accept everyone. Joelle Retener, author of Free to Be Incredible Me, a book on the ALA’s 2019 Rainbow List, wrote this in an Instagram post:
“Some people might wonder why we celebrate pride with our kids. To us it’s pretty simple. Because teaching them to not just accept but to love and embrace people that are different from them means actually exposing them to those very people… Because here amidst all these beautifully diverse people from all walks of life, sexual orientations, gender identities, races and religions, my son is no longer a boy in a dress. He is just, a kid.” [emphasis added]
Retener is shown below with Stormy Vain at the June 23rd DQSH in Lexington Park, Maryland, where Stormy read her book.
Parents who bring their children to DQSHs are adamant that the events do not promote homosexuality or transgenderism. But the question must be raised:
Why allow children to be exposed to books that do just that?
Airlie Andersen, the author of Neither, another ALA-promoted book read by Stormy Vain at the Maryland DQSH, said this on the website LGBTQ Reads:
“I try to make books for everyone, but particularly for very young readers, children who need a jumping-off place to start talking about being different, feeling awkward, finding a special spot in the world. Someday my son may experience exclusion or pressure to make a choice one way or the other, when it’s his in-betweenness that should be celebrated.”
What can be done?
Personhood Alliance Education’s initial research listed several things local communities can do to detect, prevent, and where necessary, protest “cancel-proof” DQSHs in their libraries (scroll to the end of the article for the list). But can there be a larger effort to stop children from being put in harm’s way?
The Personhood Alliance is working with other groups on model legislation at the state level to protect children from DQSHs and to prohibit public resources from being used for the promotion and delivery of pornography and other age-inappropriate materials and events at libraries. This model legislation will be based on existing child endangerment and child welfare laws, which vary widely across the country. According to Personhood Alliance president, Gualberto Garcia Jones, a plan to go after the taxpayer funding the ALA receives at the federal level is also in the works, as well as legislation that applies the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to the DQSH phenomenon. “We will no longer sit by and allow this to be pushed onto children who are at a vulnerable place in their development and cannot consent to being exposed,” says Jones.
The Personhood Alliance currently has 22 state affiliates, with seven more states in the application process. “We will be working through our affiliates in different ways to put an end to the exploitation of children and the corruption of God-designed sexuality and gender by the American Library Association and activist library boards throughout the country.”
For more information on how to get involved in your state, find a Personhood Alliance affiliate or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Quale is president of Personhood Alliance Education, the educational arm of the Personhood Alliance, and the author of the Foundations online pro-life curriculum. She is a member of the International Christian Visual Media Association and Christian Women in Media and is the founder of Educe® online learning.