What Kinds Of Lessons Are Drag Queens Actually Teaching Our Children?

in Entertainment, Movies & TV

full cast of rupaul's drag race all stars season 8

Credit: Paramount

With states like Tennessee, Montana, and Kentucky moving forward in banning drag performances in public, and states like Florida not far behind, it’s safe to say that anti-drag – and, by extension, anti-trans – sentiment is on the rise across the country.

Many of these states that aren’t outright banning drag are banning children’s drag performances, such as the popular drag story hours that are frequently held in book shops and libraries.

Mrs. Kasha Davis of RuPaul’s Drag Race recently told Variety that she believes this legislation is only happening because drag shows got more public visibility – after all, these drag shows were going on for years before all of this with little to no legislation being created around them. In their own communities, these drag shows clearly were not a problem – it’s only when drag started making the news that legislators started clutching their pearls.

Mrs. Kasha Davis To Anti-Trans Legislators: “Respect Other People’s Journeys”

mrs kasha davis on rupaul's drag race
Credit: Paramount

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To those people who so recently started pearl-clutching and fearmongering, Mrs. Kasha offers this advice:

“You don’t have to understand what isn’t for you. But what would be the kindest thing to do would be to respect other people’s journeys.”

The reason she says this is that, usually, when one is party to a transgender person’s journey, they understand how much pain and hardship it comes with; they understand that the decision to even start the journey is never easy and never done in the haste that some conservatives imagine; and most importantly, they see the difference in how happy that person becomes when they are finally able to live as their true selves.

So what, then, do children see when they see a drag queen? Or, as a mother who has never bothered to actually ask a drag queen might ask to the general public:

“How Do I Explain Drag Queens To My Children?”

mrs kasha davis on rupaul's drag race
Credit: Paramount

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Parents to whom trans people and drag queens are a new concept often struggle with reconciling what they’re seeing in front of them with their traditional conception of what gender looks like.

This is a normal reaction – most adults today were raised being told that boys wear pants, girls wear dresses, and your gender is simply determined by what’s underneath of them. To learn that what they thought was a fundamental truth is, in fact, not always that, is bound to force them to make several complex reevaluations of what they know.

Since these concepts seem so complex to them, they often worry how they are to break them down into something simple enough for a child understand, should they be asked the probing questions that they are now asking themselves.

The thing is, because they’re children, those concepts haven’t had time to get all that complex to them yet. When asked what children see when she goes to read to them at story hour, Mrs. Kasha Davis said:

“They see Mrs. Kasha Davis, who happens to live at the theater and reads books. She’s encouraging us to follow our dreams and be who we are.”

Children don’t have the same rigid views on gender that their parents often do. Those views are formed over time – that’s why you see so many preschool-aged boys who aren’t embarrassed to dress up as princesses, or little girls who don’t care about playing rough and getting dirty. They haven’t learned yet what society expects of them: They’re just doing what makes them happy.

All children see when they see a drag queen is another fun grown-up who got dressed up especially to tell them a story. It’s a performance borne out of love – a love of performing, a love of storytelling, and a love of fabulous costumes.

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Most of all though, it’s a performance of love for the children who watch it, because those children will never have to struggle the way their parents did when they are eventually confronted with a person who doesn’t conceive of gender the same way they do. They will get to ask the simple questions, and they even have the opportunity get the answers directly from someone who probably has a lot of practice answering them.

So, what lessons, exactly, do drag queens teach our kids? 

  1. That they are allowed to be whatever makes them happy.
  2. That it’s okay to ask questions – as long as they’re polite.
  3. That people who are different from them aren’t scary.
  4. Whatever lessons that the book they are reading teaches

Lastly, and most importantly – and as Mrs. Kasha Davis put it – Drag queens teach kindness.

Have you ever gone to a drag story hour? Share your experience in the comments!

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