On May 30, I received a message from Carrie Dietz, Manager of Central Youth and Teen Services at St. Louis Public Library: “I wanted to see if you would be interested in presenting a Drag Queen Story Time on Saturday, September 2nd…” it inquired, and so continued the merging of two worlds — drag, and children’s story time at the local public library.

 CelesteCovington2
I’m no stranger to drag, or libraries. As Celeste Covington, I’ve haphazardly graced many stages. From Attitudes to Novak’s, Truman State University to Murray State University, and this October the St. Louis Contemporary Art Museum. When Webster University originally approached me back in early 2017 in regard to their own Drag Queen Story Time, I readily accepted; drag is a performance art produced fully on the whim of the performer, and I welcomed the opportunity for what is perhaps an unconventional application of it. After the success of Webster’s, accepting St. Louis Public Library’s offer was a no-brainer.


Never do we fully appreciate the behind-the-scenes moments until we’re able to participate in them. From date changes to book readings, to background checks and outfit guidelines, St. Louis Public Library excelled in professionalism. The event itself was a raving success — with nearly 240 adults and children in attendance — but at the core of it all lingered the question: why do we need drag queens to read to children?


For myself, the answer was simple: because to them, we aren’t drag queens. We’re not men in dresses that represent a decades-long cultural shift that has taken a subculture and put it in the spotlight. We’re not individuals that openly challenge and defy the rigid gender binary and the status quo. We’re not non-heterosexual individuals that remember facets of the LGBT movement that took place before they were even born. To the children, we’re simply these pretty ladies in these big costumes reading their favorite stories to them. It’s that refreshing simplicity, invigorating normalcy, and the biggest smiles in the smallest people that inspires and renews my hope for a greater tomorrow. Maybe they’ll never recall the exact details, but I like to think that we’ve left a positive impression on the children, and society, that will one day open a door that we might not even realize is there.

 

 

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