Drag queens add sparkle to story time

Drag performer Harmonica Sunbeam kicks off the Epiphany Library’s summer reading series by reading to children and doing crafts with them on Friday. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It wasn’t even noon, but the atmosphere in the room already felt like a party, with at least 20 of the 35 or so young guests donning sparkly boas. The venue was the Epiphany branch of the New York Public Library on East 23rd Street, where kids aged 3-7 and their parents awaited the arrival of a drag queen. The occasion? It was on Friday at 11 a.m. and the library’s summer reading series was being kicked off with “Drag Queen Story Hour.”

Now over a year old, the program is aimed at promoting diversity and gender acceptance, and, as its official website explains, “give kids glamorous, positive and unabashedly queer role models.”

DQSH was founded in San Francisco by Michelle Tea and Radar Productions but has since branched out to other cities. It first came to New York’s Brooklyn Library and June 15 was the first time for Epiphany, where kids showed up with parents or on a class trip. Most of those in attendance, including boys, opted in for boas, which came in a few colors and were distributed by the library.

Prior to greeting the children, the drag queen doing the reading, Harmonica Sunbeam, told Town & Village she got involved with the program after seeing a Facebook post seeking drag performers to read the kids. This was after the Brooklyn Library hosted an event, which, she recalled, “went viral and there was a demand for more queens.”

Continue reading